By Marcus Leach

A survey released on Wednesday looking into Christmas shopping trends reveals that 63% of consumers intend to spend more or the same this year than previously despite the ongoing challenging economic conditions.

The survey, commissioned by BrandAlley, was conducted last week by
Framework, the independent data processing bureau, amongst 2,000 people in the UK, made up of both BrandAlley customers and non-customers.

The survey also found that many shoppers (a total of 70%) think that there
will be significant discounts available before the traditional January sales
and will be relying on these for their Christmas shopping, suggesting that
stores which offer early discounts will perform well.

Rob Feldmann, CEO of BrandAlley UK, thinks that the question, as ever, will
remain which of the big high street retailers will start their sale first.

“For many brands not wanting to detract from their full priced items in
store, having an online outlet to offer discounted stock can be the most
effective way of securing sales whilst maintaining the consumer’s
experience of their brand on the high street,” he said

The demand for discounted stock reinforces the notion that
consumers are becoming increasingly savvy shoppers, as the survey also
revealed that 90% said that their spending on clothes and shoes has either
stayed the same or decreased during the economic downturn. In addition 91%
of shoppers expect that many of their clothes purchases going forward will
be made at a discount price, leaving only 9% continuing to pay full price
for most items. This suggests that whilst consumers may have less to spend,
they have become increasingly focused on how to make their money stretch
further.

Given that 90% have reduced their overall spending, it seems that shoppers
are looking online for better value. Only one in 25 consumers has reduced
their level of online shopping during the downturn. This is further
reinforced by figures released by the Office for National Statistics on 20
October 2011 that showed one pound in every ten is spent online, a share
which is more than three times bigger than it was in early 2007.

“The current economic climate with increasing inflationary pressures has undoubtedly constrained the retail sector, however, as this survey clearly illustrates, consumers are not necessarily spending less but are definitely becoming more savvy in their spending. Discount buying is increasingly becoming the norm and people expect to find the best offers online," Feldmann continued.

“The survey also found that only 16% of consumers plan to go back to the
high street once economic conditions improve rather than continuing to do
the majority of their shopping online, citing the continuing increase in the
cost of high street shopping such as parking, transport and eating out as
the main reasons for this. Whilst this does not necessarily spell the end
of the high street, retailers will need to adapt quickly in order to be
successful and ensure that their high street offering of full price stock is
backed up with the availability of discounts online.”

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