Christmas (shopping) comes early: 29% plan to start by the end of August

Value for money trumps the priorities lists for peoples’ Christmas shopping this year, with more than half concerned about affording Christmas amid the cost of living crisis.

One-third of UK consumers are planning to start this year’s Christmas shopping earlier than last year, with 29% stating they intend to start by the end of this month.

Three in 10 said their early starts on Christmas shopping were due to the impact of the rising cost of living, with 16- to 24 year-olds and 25- to 34 year-olds the most likely to get organised earlier.

eBay Ads’ annual Christmas Spend Trends report for 2022 reveals that 29% of UK consumers are planning to spend less overall than they did last year – with 10% saying this would be significantly cut. A quarter said the cuts to spending will centre on food, decorations and parties, but 31% said they planned to buy fewer gifts than they did in 2021. But 39% told the survey that they intend to spend the same as they did in 2021 on Christmas gifts and festivities, with a further fifth stating their intentions to spend slightly more.

“This means it’s imperative for brands and sellers to ramp up Christmas campaigns now or risk missing out on valuable custom,” the report said.

Catch the Black Friday and events piques

Half of the 2,010 UK consumers surveyed by eBay Ads are planning to rely on “key shopping milestones” like Black Friday offers to take advantage of savings on gifts, as just over half said the cost of living crisis has made them worried about being able to afford gifts or host celebrations this Christmas.

But with major events on the horizon this year like the FIFA World Cup, eBay Ads also advised marketers not to “put all your baubles in one basket”.

Upasana Gupta, GM Advertising UK, eBay, said: “Christmas is coming and opportunities are rife for brands and sellers across multiple categories. Whilst traditional retail events such as Black Friday are important, people will be starting to prepare and plan early on in the season, so businesses will benefit from casting the net wider and considering other relevant milestones in the run up to Christmas that will inspire people to shop.”

Cost of living concerns mean marketers need to show value

With the cost of living concerns in the UK this year, it’s no surprise that value for money tops the priorities list on Christmas shopping for 60% of eBay Ad’s respondents, meaning that almost three times as many people prioritised value over range of choice and quick delivery.

Cost is therefore trumping convenience for shoppers this Christmas, with just 10% saying that an easy returns process was a priority for them. But alongside value for money, shoppers are after quality, with four in 10 citing quality as a top priority when shopping for gifts.

Gupta added: “With stress levels rising and purse strings pinching, businesses need to be particularly sensitive to consumers’ moods and needs and adapt their strategies accordingly. As well as providing and demonstrating good value, this means supporting shoppers in their quest to find the right products that will help make this Christmas a merry one.”

Alongside good value for money, more than half (56%) of shoppers will be looking to buy ‘thoughtful’ gifts that add value to their recipient’s lives this year. Three in 10 said they would be looking for functional, practical gifts, and 23% will be buying essential items, preferring to buy practical gifts at a time when purses are being squeezed buying even everyday items. Just one in 10 were looking to buy tokens or ‘frivolous’ gifts.

Greener pastures this Christmas

Four in 10 consumers want to be climate conscious when Christmas shopping this year, with one in 10 saying that buying eco-friendly products will be one of their biggest gift-shopping priorities. Almost a fifth (17%) will shop for second hand or refurbished items and 15% are committed to buying sustainable decorations.

Despite wanting to spend less, 27% of shoppers are prepared to pay more for items with better sustainability credentials, while 28% plan to shop with local businesses this year, indicating the growing appetite to support local economies after a turbulent two years.