Global survey shows surge in Christmas holiday shopping due to product shortage and lockdown fears

  • Over half (56%) of consumers plan to do their holiday shopping earlier than usual
  • Two-thirds of UK shoppers undeterred from high street browsing despite the pandemic

 According to a new survey* of 1,000 UK consumers carried out on behalf of JRNI, over half (56%) of consumers plan to do their Christmas holiday shopping early in 2021 due to fears of empty shelves and further lockdown measures.

Almost one in 10 (8%) are reported to have already completed their holiday shopping as the UK’s shortage of HGV drivers continues to threaten supply chains and uncertainty as COVID-19 persists.

The survey, in which the sample was managed to ensure equal weighting between the gender and age of all respondents, also shed light on consumers’ preferred method of shopping in the run-up to the holiday period.  Despite the boom in online shopping during the pandemic, almost two-thirds (64%) of shoppers are planning on hitting the high street, with nearly half (47%) of all respondents stating that human contact was an important part of the retail experience.

When it comes to buying Christmas gifts, 38% said they would combine online and offline shopping, with one in five eager to get back in stores during the festive period.

The survey also revealed that attitudes toward pre-planned visits to stores had changed among UK shoppers. More than a third (37%) now say they would prefer a more COVID-safe experience in-store, with 30% saying they would now like the ability to control when they visit. In fact, 38% of UK shoppers are now more likely to schedule an in-store appointment than they were before the pandemic, and 55% would prefer to book an appointment than queue due to social distancing measures.

Key Findings at a Glance:

  • Consumers plan to do their holiday shopping early amid fears of shortages and lockdowns
    • 56% of shoppers are planning to do their holiday shopping earlier than usual
    • 8% have completed their holiday shopping already
  • UK shoppers undeterred from high street browsing despite the pandemic
    • 64% of consumers say they still plan on hitting the high street in the run-up to the holiday season
    • When it comes to buying Christmas gifts specifically, 22% are “excited” to start visiting stores, with 38% blending online and offline shopping
    • A quarter of shoppers expect to spend 10% more than they did in 2020, and 39% expect to spend up to 20% more
  • Customers would prefer to book an appointment to visit a store rather than queue
    • Due to the risk of social distancing and other COVID measures, 55% of shoppers say they would rather book an in-store appointment than queue for entry
  • Appointment-based shopping gains traction in the UK
    • 82% of shoppers report a positive in-store appointment-based experience, with 80% reporting the same for virtual or augmented online appointments
    • Nearly four in 10 (38%) are more likely to seek out and schedule an in-store appointment than they were prior to the pandemic
    • Nearly a third (27%) said any store offering an appointment-based system was taking the safety of customers and staff seriously. 22% thought it was a proactive step for the business to take, and 19% felt it equated to better customer service

John Federman, CEO at JRNI, commented on the findings, “Black Friday planning is certainly going to look very different for both businesses and consumers this year. Although the high street is fully open and shoppers are expressing interest in in-store shopping, the looming threat of product shortages and lockdowns drive many shoppers to get an early start. The research really backs this up, showing that across the UK more than half of all shoppers are planning to hit the high street or start their online shopping earlier than usual.

He continued: “Despite the obvious surge in online shopping during the pandemic, a surprising number of consumers are still eager to get back in shops to do their holiday shopping. One key difference is the rise in appointment-based visits which have seen a small boom over the past year.

“With shops already bracing themselves for potential social distancing measures this winter season, they would do well to get appointment-based systems in place to ensure their customers feel safe and aren’t left queuing in the cold. Virtual and augmented appointments have also increased in popularity, so there’s no shortage of ways for both online and offline retailers to make things easy for shoppers this holiday season.”

* The online survey was conducted by the independent research firm Censuswide in October 2021. The online survey questioned 1000 consumers in each region (US and UK). The respondent sample was managed to ensure equal weighting between the gender and age of respondents.

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