Merry Clickmas: Consumers set to spend big online this holiday period

73% of holiday shoppers will purchase primarily online regardless of a potential return to lockdown, with majority of shoppers not planning to decrease their spend

Over 70% of holiday shoppers do not plan to decrease spend on 2020 holiday shopping (compared to 2019), according to new research from Rakuten Advertising, the global provider of advertising technology and consumer insights.

The research, conducted among 8,673 adults across the globe, found that despite 40+% of global holiday shoppers citing a decrease in household income due to COVID-19, 87% of people will still be shopping for holidays such as Christmas and 57% plan to purchase during key shopping peaks like Black Friday.

In the UK, the majority (42%) of shoppers look set to spend the same amount as last year on their holiday purchases with, even better, 27% looking to increase their spend on people in their immediate family.

This lack of intent to curb spending during peak shopping periods is good news for brands and retailers, presenting an opportunity to drive revenue success in the second half of the year, after a challenging start to 2020.

The story so far: How COVID has shaped consumer priorities

The UK shopper has adapted on account of lockdown and acted conservatively when shopping during this period of uncertainty. Since the Coronavirus outbreak, 49% of UK consumers have decreased their monthly spending – a far more cautious position to contemporaries in Germany (28%) and France (33%) – and moved investment away from conventionally “fun” purchases to essentials.

Research shows that UK consumers decreased their spending on travel (81%), restaurant and delivery (60%) and more luxurious items such as jewellery (57%) and apparel (59%). But increased spending on the likes of groceries (54%) and digital entertainment (35%).

The UK shopper also demonstrated a savvy shift to purchasing more online, with many consumers shopping via e-commerce for the first time. Approximately 65% of UK consumers have shopped more online since the outbreak of COVID-19, a change of behaviour that looks set to stick far into the second half of 2020, and presents huge opportunities for brands to engage with “new-to-online” consumers.

Online to reign supreme

Without question, concerns over health are still high, and shoppers (32%) have expressed desires to avoid large crowds, a mindset shift that is driving consumers online to purchase.  73% of UK consumers are looking to buy primarily online this holiday peak, and of online purchases, 54% plan to purchase on their mobile.

As buyers move to buy on mobile, employing effective mobile strategies during peak shopping periods has never been more essential for brands in converting consumers.

Anthony Capano, Managing Director, International, at Rakuten Advertising comments, “Now is the time for brands to embrace mobile in-app tracking and accurately reward publishers for driving mobile sales. In-app tracking enables advertisers to track in-app conversions and effectively enhance their campaigns for mobile app users.”

Capano continues, “By employing in-app tracking, brands can better understand and track mobile activity and consumer behaviour with the view of optimising the consumer experience wherever they are shopping.”

This year’s holiday shopper: Not afraid to spend, but will do so wisely

This year, 38% of UK consumers plan to shop for 6 or more people at holiday peaks, and a potential slide back into lockdown will not phase the foolhardy consumer.

Should society face a second wave of restrictions, retail need not panic, as shoppers (51%) have said they do not plan to decrease their holiday spend. This determination to continue as normal and not let COVID impact Christmas is reflected globally with 54% of consumers saying there will be no change to their spend for key shopping dates in the first half of 2021 either, including Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.

Having said this, there is no doubt that people are prioritising who they purchase for and sales and discounts will be the most influential factor (47%) driving holiday purchases in the UK this year, with 32% of consumers planning to change when they shop to save more money. For brands, cashback and rewards will be an empowering tool to incentivise shoppers to invest.

Capano adds, “By working with affiliate publishers that reward consumers for shopping, brands can encourage repeat purchases.  AI tools are available that allow publishers to serve personalised ads and offers based on past shopping behaviours. By working together, they can drive a better experience for the consumer and increase engagement.”

He continues, “Brands can further drive loyalty for those who chose “in-store” shopping by partnering with publishers that connect the online-to-offline (O2O) experiences. These publishers provide discounts and offers both in-store and online – through strategies such as cardlinked offers – that enable brands to create a seamless consumer experience.”

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