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Christmas: for some its true meaning lies in its religious significance while for others, shoppers and retailers alike, its primary importance is its place as a key fixture in the consumer calendar.
So in post-recessionary Europe although shoppers are still feeling the economic pinch they’re adopting strategies to make the money in their wallets go further and refusing to compromise on festive cheer.
Logan’s Tods Annual Online Shopping Index predicts that online sales will hit £1.26 billion during the Christmas 2010 shopping season, with UK consumers intending to do 23% more shopping online than they did in 2009, reports internetretailing.com. The research found that shoppers purchased over half their gifts online last Christmas.
Cost remains the most important factor for the majority of shoppers, with nearly 70% citing competitive pricing as the reason for going online.
The largest growth is in the 45+ age group, who also cite store opening times, home delivery and avoiding crowds as key factors driving their choice. More than 70% of this demographic researched online before purchasing.
However, this group is less willing to accept a poor customer experience and, as the richest and fastest growing demographic, Logan Tod warns retailers to avoid this aspect at their peril. Once at a website the most important elements for conversion were delivery options (68%), site search and product availability (67%), and well-written copy (50%).
For the most prolific internet shoppers, the factors that clinched the deal were delivery options and search, although last year crowds and opening times were most important. However, one third of all online Christmas shoppers used ‘click and collect’ last Christmas.
Logan Tod’s chief executive says today’s savvier shopper is researching more and looking for money-off vouchers and promotions: “By Christmas 2010 60% of shoppers stated that research will be crucial in their purchasing decisions, however a third of consumers will abandon sites that are not good enough quality.”
Summer may barely be over but financially it’s still looking pretty bleak for many consumers. As a result, in the mid-term they’re likely to welcome the opportunity of early seasonal offerings to allow them to spread their costs and budget for Christmas.
In the longer term, it may come to be seen as normal to browse for festive decorations in August, unless there’s a consumer backlash. It’s a similar story with online shopping, if the price is right.
And for those who’ve had to forego a winter holiday because of economic reasons, an overnight Christmas shopping trip may offer an opportunity to save money and treat oneself at the same time.