Shoppers still spending, but service really counts
Shoppers are holding out for last minute Christmas bargains this year, despite the fact that 58% say they won't be cutting their spending and 64% say they will visit or patronise new shops, according to a survey of 2,700 British consumers by Retail Eyes.
The survey found that almost one in five people (17%) planned to leave their Christmas shopping until the last week before Christmas, and that more than half of those last-minute shoppers (53%) were waiting for inspiration for gift choices. Another 22% of the same group felt that they simply would not have the time to shop until the last minute, and 17% were hoping to benefit from last minute bargains.
However, the country's tough economic climate hasn't reduced the budget for Christmas presents, as 45% said they were planning to spend the same on Christmas as they did in 2009, and 13% said they would actually be spending more.
The trend toward online shopping is also continuing to grow, with more than four out of five people (81%) planning to make at least one present purchase online. Some 8% of people planned to avoid the high street completely and do all of their gift shopping online. By contrast, 10% said they would remain loyal to the high street and do all of their shopping there, even thought 66% of those said they planned to minimise the time spent in the shops by researching potential purchases online beforehand.
According to Simon Boydell, marketing manager for Retail Eyes, "This survey suggests that there is a real opportunity for retailers to capitalise on the last minute Christmas spending spree. More than six out of ten consumers (64%) also said that they plan to visit a shop that they wouldn't normally buy from, with toy shops topping the list for one-off purchases."
But with this late shopping comes additional frustration for shoppers, with 87% saying that crowds and long queues are the most frustrating aspects of Christmas shopping.
"It is vital that customer facing staff are made aware that customers can quickly become frustrated and there must be a clear presence on the shop floor of members of staff working to manage queues efficiently," warned Boydell.
Fortunately, however, the festive atmosphere (as well as bargains) keeps people coming to retail stores, as the survey noted that 68% feel that "the festive spirit" is the most enjoyable aspect of Christmas shopping in the high street.