Physical Stores Take Precedence for Christmas Shopping in the UK

Impulse buys will drive retail sales this year, as consumers favour retailers with longer opening hours, short checkout queues and in store collection services

Reading, UK – 23 November 2015 – High street stores remain the cornerstone for British retailing success as nearly half (47 per cent) of UK shoppers say it’s more important for them to shop in store during the Christmas holidays, compared to other times of the year. Despite the growing accessibility of online and mobile shopping, many still like to visit the physical store for gift inspiration and convenience.

This year, retailers should expect a much more volatile shopping pattern from consumers. The majority of respondents (85 per cent) say they don’t have a set timeframe for gift shopping, but would rather buy on impulse, either during occasional free time in their busy lifestyles, or when they see something they like in the store or online.

Contrary to the hype around Black Friday (27 November), only 3 per cent of consumers say they plan to shop for a bargain on this day. Similarly, consumers are abandoning the tradition of last minute shopping in the week ahead of Christmas Day, with just 9 per cent saying they plan to complete the majority of gift shopping during this time.

These findings are based on a new survey by RichRelevance®, the global leader in omnichannel personalisation. The study surveyed 1,077 consumers across the UK to pick out the trends and themes that will define the in store shopping experience this Christmas. Key findings include:

UK unfazed by Christmas creep

  • Nearly half of UK consumers (47 per cent) say they are annoyed or very annoyed to see Christmas merchandise being promoted or sold in the store before Halloween.
  • But for the majority of consumers, the phenomenon of ‘Christmas creep’ has no impact on their choice of shopping destinations: only 3 in 10 say they are less likely to buy from a retailer who displays holiday merchandise in the store before November.

Consumers opt for retailers with time saving and convenience factors

  • The main reasons for shoppers to shop in store are to get items immediately (58 per cent), get ideas and inspiration for gifts (51 per cent) and know exactly what they are buying with no unwanted surprises (35 per cent).
  • Longer opening hours in the evenings and weekends are highly favourable amongst UK consumers, with 7 in 10 shoppers raising a thumbs up for retailers who take on such challenges.
  • However, one sure way to send shoppers away is long queues at the check out (67 per cent say this is their biggest frustration). This is closely followed by busy traffic and parking (54 per cent) and out-of-stock items and unavailable sizes (53 per cent).

Click & Collect service is the most desirable feature in the store

  • Following last year’s success with Click & Collect services, nearly two thirds of UK shoppers (60 per cent) say this is still the most desirable in store feature. Other favourable features for shopping in the store are helpful sales assistants who can check on purchases anywhere in the store using mobile checkouts (37 per cent) and self-service tablets and kiosks to check pricing, availability and view recommendations (36 per cent).
  • With more retailers now offering free shipping or Click & Collect services, it is no surprise that only a small majority of consumers (27 per cent) are concerned about shipping costs and the hassle of home deliveries.

Consumers less concerned about data security in store

  • Interestingly, consumers are more confident about credit card and data security in store, with over half of respondents (52 per cent) saying they are not at all worried. One possible suggestion is that due to recent high profile cyber attacks, many consumers now prefer to shop in store rather than purchase goods online.
  • Card and mobile payment will dominate in store purchases, as an overwhelming majority (75 per cent) has boldly said they will not be using cash to purchase gifts this year.

“The high street store remains an anchor for Christmas shoppers—whether for inspiration, convenience or immediate purchase gratification,” said Matthieu Chouard, Vice President and General Manager of EMEA, RichRelevance. “Savvy retailers will recognise the opportunity to leverage their stores to deliver—or exceed—consumer demand for convenience and time savings this holiday season.”

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This post was written by RichRelevance

ABOUT RichRelevance
RichRelevance is the global leader in experience personalization, driving digital growth and brand loyalty for more than 200 of the world’s largest B2C and B2B brands and retailers. The company leverages advanced AI technologies to bridge the experience gap between marketing and commerce to help digital marketing leaders stage memorable experiences that speak to individuals – at scale, in real time, and across the customer lifecycle. Headquartered in San Francisco, RichRelevance serves clients in 42 countries from 9 offices around the globe.
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