In the run up to the festive period of 2020, Elavon commissioned an online survey of 1,121 adults in the UK about the nation’s spending plans and the reasons behind them.
In a nutshell: some 48% of UK adults plan to spend the same or more this festive season compared to the last one. And 82% are planning to shop in-store, with almost a third of those (31%) doing so to support their local economy.
And there’s even more of interest within the details…
Our findings reveal almost half (48%) of us are planning to spend less this festive season than last. Over a third (38%) plan to spend about the same, with one in ten (10%) intending to increase spending this year.
Of those planning to spend less (48%), the top three reasons were: a decrease in income (41%), planning smaller celebrations (36%) and feeling the need to save or be ‘safer’ with money this year (36%).
For those expecting to spend more (10%), the top reasons were: using money (38%) that would have been spent on other things (such as holidays, commuting, socialising), buying for more people this year (20%) and an increase in income (17%).
If we look into the ages of those expecting to increase their spending, more than a quarter (26%) of those aged 16-24 years intend to spend more. That’s compared with around one in ten (11%) of those who are aged 25-34 and 35-44, with 3% for those aged 45-54 and with 5% of those who are aged 55-75 years.
“It’s to be expected the pandemic would have some impact on consumer confidence, but it’s evenly split between those decreasing their spending, and those – when combined – who are intending to spend the same or more this season with those aged 16-24 most likely to increase their spending,” says Simon Tune, Commercial Director for Elavon Europe.
“So, as has always been the case, retailers need to listen to what shoppers are saying they want.
“Whether they are online orwhether they are in a face-to-face environment, that means offering demonstrable value for money as shoppers raise their expectations of the consumer experience," Simon goes on to explain.
“That could mean actively demonstrating your health and safety and local credentials in a face to face environment, or supporting a smooth delivery and returns process if selling online. Consumers have more choice than ever before, and can easily and actively seek out those who are best meeting their expectations.”
Shopping: face to face or ‘clickety click’?
National and localised pandemic restrictions have changed the face of shopping this year – quite literally: masks are compulsory, shops have had to adjust to support social distancing, and many have taken their wares from the high street to online.
So – irrespective of whether shops are open or not at the time of our survey – we wanted to explore the biggest drivers when it comes to using a physical shop or an online one, assuming both were equally available.
Main reasons to shop in-store
Firstly, almost one in five (18%) aren’t planning to use a physical store at all this festive season.
We’ll explore what could influence that shortly, but first to the other 82% that may use a physical shop.
Why? The biggest reason given was the ease of making choices when able to see items in person (38%).
Perhaps linked to that, being able to better assess the quality of items was the second strongest driver (33%).
Supporting the local economy was a motivation for almost a third (31%).
Notably among the others, around one in ten (12%) were keen on the social side of shopping or shopping with others.
What would encourage in-store shopping?
We also wanted to explore what could, during these times of social distancing, encourage more shoppers into physical stores while they’re open.
Almost half (46%) said enforcing health and safety, such as wearing a mask, would help. This was followed closely (41%) by providing hand sanitiser around the store.
Longer opening hours would encourage more than a quarter of respondents (27%), with almost one in four (24%) encouraged by so-called ‘quiet hours’ for those shielding – where access is limited to those of, say, a certain age or profession, such as key workers.
Social distancing features – including approaches that make visits in-store quicker – are among the trends too, with almost a quarter (23%) saying they’d be encouraged by a ‘scan and go’ (no-till shopping) approach.
In addition, about a fifth (21%) said that they’d welcome the ability to order something to collect at the shop. Both of these options represent methods that could reduce contact with others and time spent in store.
What would encourage those actively not intending to shop in-store?
With almost one in five (18%) of our respondents not intending to shop in a physical store this year, we wanted to explore what would influence a change in that. More than a third (35%) didn’t know, but of those that gave an indication many of the top responses demonstrated that concern over risks from the pandemic were key.
Almost a third (30%) said enforcing health and safety, such as wearing a mask, would encourage them. Not far behind in encouragement stakes was providing hand sanitiser around the store (27%).
Reducing contact with others or time spent with others seemed important too. Almost a quarter (24%) welcome the option to order something to collect in-store – assumedly at a time convenient to them, and meaning their in-store experience was shorter and more controlled.
‘Quiet hours’ would encourage just over a fifth (21%) of respondents to use a store, with just under a fifth (19%) welcoming the option to check availability before going to the store.
“It’s illuminating to see what could motivate a change in attitude and intention among those who don’t plan to visit a physical store over the festive period,” says Simon.
“Potential customers are saying loudly and clearly what they want – to be safe while shopping, and to feel safe while shopping in these pandemic times. Adjustments that reduce exposure to crowds and potential risk points, such as contact with staff and other shoppers, seems to be resonating. Payments is a big part of this and was also evidenced in our previous study on payment preferences as the first national lockdown restrictions lifted.
“If it’s something you need advice on - talk to us.”
What would encourage online shopping?
Delivery and returns provision are clear motivations for online shoppers – accounting for the top seven responses.
Reliable delivery was overall top (47%) with second, third and fourth preferences dedicated to returns too: Close to half (44%) motivated by free returns labels, followed by (43%) free returns packaging and more than a third (37%) welcoming returns being collected from home.
More than a quarter are motivated by same day delivery (28%) and a wider range of delivery slots (27%).
Customer attitude was encouraged too by more detailed descriptions (23%) and more detailed images (21%) including zoom options or the ability to fully rotate or turn a product – replicating the ability to assess items in detail, which were the biggest drivers for those shopping in-store.
“The key findings here speak in some ways to taking the face to face experience of a shop to your online store,” says Simon.
“Those buying from a physical shop can usually inspect, assess quality and value for money, and take it straight home with them. If there’s an issue – taking it back to the store is the traditional experience. It’s crucial to replicate that fuss-free ability to get items reliably delivered, return them if there’s an issue without additional cost and inconvenience, and inspect them closely for suitability.”
- 4 out of 5 of adults (82%) are undeterred to use face to face shops.
- Almost half (47%) planning to spend the same or more this festive season compared to last.
- The age group most likely to increase spending over the festivities is the youngest with more than a quarter (26%) of 16-24 year olds planning to increase their spending.
- A big driver for face to face shopping at any time is the ease of making choices in person, with supporting the local economy being the third most important driver in the UK (31%).
- The biggest drivers for face to face shopping in these times are demonstrable health and safety.
- For online shopping – the biggest drivers are reliable delivery, returns and things that replicate the face to face experience in an online environment – descriptions/imagery that make it easier to make choices, better assess quality and value for money.
We conducted this same survey in other countries too, which may interest you:
- Online interviews were carried out amongst adults aged 16-75 in the UK.
- Our respondents base includes 1,211 adults who completed the survey 6-10th November 2020.
- The sample obtained is representative of the population with quotas on: age, gender, region and working status.
- The data has been weighted to the known population profile by age, gender, region, working status and social grade to be nationally representative and reflect the adult population of the UK.