Christmas 2016

Seasonal adverts in full swing, carols aplenty on the high street and shoppers eagerly hunting down gifts in anticipation of the big day. The Christmas shopping period is now well underway for UK retailers, with November’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales frenzy signalling the inaugural phase of the busiest shopping period of the year - the penultimate battle of the year to win shoppers’ share of wallet.  

What do UK consumers have planned?

Our recent survey of 2000 UK adults conducted in November by Opinium addresses this key question and pinpoints key consumer trends and shopping behaviours for Christmas 2016, including:
  • Who will be buying this year
  • How much shoppers plan to spend
  • Hesitation to purchase due to pre-Christmas price reductions/discounts
  • The relative appeal of Christmas ‘price promises’
  • If, and how, retailers can encourage higher spend
  • Tactics used by shoppers to minimise post-purchase risk

UK adults expect to spend an average of £280 on Christmas gifts 

Of those who do not intend to spend anything on Christmas gifts this year, the most common reason for this is because they do not celebrate Christmas (64%), followed by not having anyone to give gifts to (23%) and not being able to afford to spend anything on Christmas gifts this year (15%).

A quarter (25%) expect the effects of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union to have an affect on how much they spend this Christmas. However, the majority (67%) expect no impact at all. 

"Appealing to nostalgia, providing in-store product demonstrations, putting on special sales and reductions and offering coupons and vouchers are ways that retailers can enhance the Christmas shopping experience."

PwC "What do consumers have planned?" ReportChristmas 2016

The average UK adult expects to make 53% of their Christmas purchases online 

UK adults expect to make just over half (53%) of their purchases online this Christmas, compared to 43% in-store. The average UK adults expects to proportion their Christmas spending through the following methods:

  • Online - laptop or desktop (36%)
  • In-store (43%)
  • Online - tablet device (retailer website) (6%)
  • Online - mobile device (retailer mobile site) (5%)
  • Online - mobile device (retailer app) (4%)
  • TV (2%)
  • Online - tablet device (retailer app) (2%)
  • By phone (2%) 

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Three in five hesitate to purchase before Christmas because of pre-Christmas discounts 


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Of those expecting to spend this Christmas, half (48%) say that nothing retailers do could get them to spend more this Christmas time. Over a quarter (28%) would spend more if prices were reduced earlier, while 13% would spend more if deals were offered earlier.

Despite so many saying the amount they spend has nothing to do with retailers, three fifths (60%) hesitate to purchase before Christmas because of pre-Christmas price reductions/discounts, with 16% hesitating on most of their Christmas purchases. 

Price promises 

In a scenario where those intending to shop plan to spend with specific retailers this festive season, if those retailers made a “price promise” that no present purchases would be discounted before Christmas, a fifth (21%) would be likely to spend more with this retailer over the Christmas period, 12% said less and the majority (57%) would not spend any less or any more.

55% of shoppers take action to minimise Christmas post-purchase risk

Over half (55%) of UK adults who plan to spend this Christmas take action to minimise post-purchase risk (i.e. the risk of needing to return items either themselves or for the people they give gifts to). To discover the most popular techniques used to minimise risk, download our Christmas report.

Contact us

Lisa Hooker

Lisa Hooker

Leader of Industry for Consumer Markets, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 7802 882 562

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