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All consumers want for Christmas is a special celebration at home - PwC Christmas trading predictions


With lockdown lifted in England and the UK returning to tiered restrictions, most non-essential retailers have reopened their doors in time for critical Christmas trading. Despite the prospect of a scaled back festive period, new analysis from PwC shows UK shoppers are still preparing to spend £384 each on Christmas presents and celebrations.

Nearly half of us, 46%, are intending to stay at home with immediate family rather than host or visit extended family over the holiday season- more than double that of ‘normal’ years. This key trend means there will be a decline in average spend, falling around £30 this year, across all age ranges and all regions. However, Christmas remains an important retail event with consumers intending to spend around £20bn.

Despite all the uncertainty this year, only one in five are actively looking to reduce what they spend on Christmas and of those, for less than half, 43%, it is a result of having less money. With smaller celebrations planned we are seeing fewer people, entertaining less at home, and have fewer gifts to buy.

Changes to the way we celebrate Christmas this year have affected what we’re looking to buy. Pet gifts, children’s clothing, toys and stocking fillers, are all high on the shopping list. But, smaller gatherings means, although still important, people will spend less on their Christmas dinner and food and drink. Frequently the top priority, this year will see a decrease in this spend, particularly in the over 55s. 

People are keen to make Christmas extra special this year and so shoppers are not willing to take any chances. The majority, 86%, will buy from retailers they know and trust and almost a quarter of consumers, 21%, will shop earlier than normal, largely because most of Christmas spending will be online and people want to make sure gifts arrive on time. 

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said;

“In a highly unusual year, we’re seeing people planning smaller, closer-to-home, and more family-oriented Christmas celebrations. Combined with restrictions on shop openings and general pandemic-related concerns, there's been an acceleration in the long-term shift to shopping online. This all affects how much we’ll spend, what we’ll buy and where we’ll buy it. 

“We will prioritise brands we trust, support local retailers where we can but might not always get what we want.  Practical gifting such as kids clothing and traditional games continues to be popular but is not the top of children’s wish list who are keener on games consoles and phones.

“If Christmas is going to be different this year, consumers want it to be special - especially for their children and pets and we could potentially see shortages of stock as consumers shop early.”

Notes to editors

The report is based on an online survey of over 2,000 adults from across the United Kingdom. The survey was conducted by Opinium between 12-17 November 2020 and the sample has been weighted to reflect a nationally representative audience.

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