Christmas spend trends

The path to profit during a pandemic

Christmas might feel far off — but, as one of the most significant retail milestones, this year’s festivities could make or break many brands as well as have a significant impact on the economy’s recovery.  

From the way we shop to the way we work, socialise and exercise, the global pandemic has shaken up almost every aspect of our lives. As society starts to open up again, there is growing pressure to connect with consumers and drive sales. We want to help brands overcome the uncertainty and make this Christmas a commercially successful one. So, we’ve combined insights into eBay’s 32 million monthly unique UK users with responses from a survey of over 2,000 UK consumers who celebrate Christmas to paint a picture of how shopping behaviour is changing. Read the full report here. 

1) New passions are driving purchases 

The lockdown left many of us with time on our hands and a hunger for new experiences, as social distancing requirements restricted our ability to go about our normal lives. According to our research, over half (56%) of consumers took up a new hobby or interest during the lockdown, of which 75% intend to continue with it for at least the rest of the year — meaning these interests are likely to influence Christmas wish lists. 

Most popular new hobbies taken up during lockdown: 

– Baking (20%)
– Gardening (20%)
– DIY or home improvement (14%)
– Sport or fitness (14%)
– Board games or jigsaw puzzles (10%)
– Crafts (10%)
– Video Games (9%)
– Drawing or painting (7%)
– Hair and beauty (4%)
– Musical instrument (4%)

2) Christmas is coming early 

While two fifths (41%) of consumers expect to start their Christmas shopping and preparations around the same time as they did last year, over a quarter (27%) told us they’re planning to begin earlier this year and a third (34%) had already bought some Christmas-related items this year.  

3) It’s going to be a traditional, and thoughtful Christmas  

The pandemic has prompted people to reconsider their priorities, with gifts and celebrations likely to shift from materialistic to meaningful. Our research suggests that it’s going to be a very traditional Christmas, with 43% saying they’ll do what they usually do to celebrate. Top priorities are to spend time with loved ones (57%), have a quiet Christmas after a difficult year (29%), and spend time at home by choice rather than obligation (23%).  

Meanwhile, 15% of consumers expect their Christmas to feel very nostalgic with 37% saying they’ll put more thought into the presents they give this year, compared to previous years. Discover how Brits are feeling about Christmas 2020 here.

4) Shopping to default to online this Christmas 

As well as changing the way we think and feel, recent events have transformed the way we shop — with over half (53%) claiming Covid-19 has changed their shopping behaviour significantly.  

In our research, we found that almost half (44%) of consumers plan to do more of their Christmas shopping online than they have done previously, with a third (33%) expecting to rely on ecommerce for all their Christmas purchases this year.  

5) Consumers want brands to be informative and in touch with reality

We asked the consumers we surveyed what kinds of messages they want to hear from brands at the moment. Their top responses included:  
– In touch with reality (34%)
– Informative (30%)
– Reassuring (25%)
– Humorous / entertaining (24%)
– Inspirational (18%)
– Empathetic / sensitive (18%)

Conclusion and key takeaways 

This year has been rife with change, disruption and uncertainty. And as we look forward to the festive season, it’s clear that the resulting transformation in consumers’ behaviour, priorities, interests and income means marketers face a huge challenge of their own as they look to kick off their Christmas campaigns. This year, there’s no repeating last year’s strategy.  

However, if one thing remains true, it’s that this year’s Christmas will be an incredibly important retail milestone. Shoppers are already excited and planning ahead for a more thoughtful and meaningful celebration.  

If you’d like to have a conversation about your Christmas campaign, please contact your sales rep or email [email protected]