Survey reveals latest consumer attitudes and shopping behaviour at Christmas

A consumer survey, commissioned by SAS, has revealed the latest consumer attitudes and shopping behavior, highlighting key issues such as buying British, spending habits, Black Friday, AI, the power of suggestion, getting a bargain, and this year's top gifts.

Three-quarters (76 per cent) of British shoppers have no plans to change their Christmas shopping habits this year to 'buy British', despite the UK's decision to leave the European Union. One in four (23 per cent), however, said they are now more likely to buy UK merchandise over gifts sold by non UK companies, given the choice. The survey also found that the 18- to 29-year-old age group is the most patriotic, with one-third more likely to buy UK merchandise than any other age groups.

Retailers can be assured that consumer spending should be in line with last year this Christmas, regardless of uncertainty over the value of the pound in recent months. Seven in 10 plan to spend around the same as last year, with 14 per cent looking to spend more and 16 per cent less. The biggest spenders are the 18- to 29-year-olds, with a quarter planning to spend more than £500 on gifts, compared to the majority of the population (61 per cent) that plan to spend somewhere between £100 and £500.

In line with last year, as many as one in five British consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, making it more popular than the week before Christmas (17 per cent) and Cyber Monday (11 per cent). Black Friday shopping is most popular with the young as 42 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds will be parting with their cash that day.

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic assistance continue to transform the ecommerce market. One in four (23 per cent) shoppers would happily let robots choose, purchase and deliver Christmas gifts to their friends and family, given the choice. This figure rises to 51 per cent for 18- to 29-year-olds, declining steadily to just 12 per cent for over 70s.

Smart retailers are already taking advantage of the consumer data they currently hold to make faster, more informed recommendations to shoppers. Four in 10 (37 per cent) of consumers get gift ideas from retailers' suggestions, and nearly half (49 per cent) regularly or sometimes make a purchase following a retailer's suggestion. However, the vast majority (86 per cent) of shoppers say these suggestions are still only moderately or not at all accurate to their current lifestyle or shopping preference.

With the economy the biggest influencer on the Christmas wallet, getting a bargain is ranked as the most important factor, followed by brand loyalty and the returns policy. However, retailers should be wary of fickle shoppers. When a desired item is out of stock online, as many as two-thirds of consumers (67 per cent) will go to a different website to find the gift they want.  

Books, music and movies, along with cosmetics and fragrances, are what most shoppers (50 per cent) plan to give this year. This is followed by toys and games (47 per cent) and money (45 per cent). Other popular present ideas include gift cards (43 per cent), apparel and accessories (41 per cent), food and beverage (39 per cent), household goods (22 per cent), consumer electronics (17 per cent), homemade gifts and baked goods (17 per cent) and sporting goods (13 per cent).

For more details, download the SAS holiday shopper survey.

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