shopping centre

The majority of British shoppers have no plans to change their Christmas shopping habits this year to ‘buy British’, despite the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Three-quarters (76%) of shoppers in the UK say they are unmotivated to buy British this year, according to the SAS holiday shopper survey,

One in four, however, said they are now more likely to buy UK merchandise over gifts sold by non UK companies, given the choice.

The survey also found that the 18- to 29-year-old age group is the most patriotic, with one-third more likely to buy UK merchandise than any other age groups.

Retailers can be assured that consumer spending should be in line with last year this Christmas, regardless of uncertainty over the value of the pound in recent months.

Seven in 10 plan to spend around the same as last year, with 14% looking to spend more and 16% less. The biggest spenders are the 18- to 29-year-olds, with a quarter planning to spend more than £500 on gifts, compared to the majority of the population (61%) that plan to spend somewhere between £100 and £500.

In line with last year, as many as one in five British consumers plan to shop on Black Friday, making it more popular than the week before Christmas (17%) and Cyber Monday (11%). Shopping on Christmas Eve (5%) and Boxing Day (3%) have fallen completely out of favour with British consumers.

Black Friday shopping is most popular with the young: 42% of 18- to 24-year-olds will be parting with their cash that day, with the percentage falling steadily among older age groups to just 12% for those aged 60-69 and 4% for the over 70s.

One in four would let robots buy their gifts

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic assistance continue to transform the ecommerce market. One in four (23%) shoppers would happily let robots choose, purchase and deliver Christmas gifts to their friends and family, given the choice. This figure rises to 51% for 18- to 29-year-olds, declining steadily to just 12% for over 70s.

Andrew Fowkes, Head of Retail Centre of Excellence, SAS UK & Ireland said: “This is an exciting time for retailers as we see for the first time a real transformation driven by AI and robotics.

“Data analytics holds the key for retailers to gain competitive advantage. It provides accurate insights for store owners to make smarter decisions, whether it’s product recommendations or forecasting their stock inventory. Shoppers will also value the convenience and time saving benefits, improving brand loyalty beyond the holiday season.”

With robots set to play a part in the future of consumer buying patterns, 17% of shoppers are already using mobile payment systems, such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet, to buy gifts.

The power of suggestion – retailers need to get personal

Smart retailers are already taking advantage of the consumer data they currently hold to make faster, more informed recommendations to shoppers. Four in 10 (37%) of consumers get gift ideas from retailers’ suggestions, and nearly half (49%) regularly or sometimes make a purchase following a retailer’s suggestion.

However, the vast majority (86%) of shoppers say these suggestions are still only moderately or not at all accurate to their current lifestyle or shopping preference.

Mr. Fowkes added: “Product recommendations are essential for retailers and can significantly improve conversion in today’s competitive market, both online and in-store. Yet time and time again, many fail to make use of the data available to them to make informed choices.

“What this demonstrates is the importance of personalisation: well targeted offers are vital if retailers are to get their share of the Christmas wallet.”

Don’t run out of stock – or customers will switch

With the economy the biggest influence on the Christmas wallet, getting a bargain is ranked as the most important factor, followed by brand loyalty and the returns policy. However, retailers should be wary of fickle shoppers. When a desired item is out of stock online, as many as two-thirds of consumers (67%) will go to a different website to find the gift they want.

The majority of people (65%) would shop online via PC, primarily to avoid long queues and busy traffic on the high street. In comparison, 59% of consumers prefer to buy in-store, while 17 per cent choose to shop online via tablet and 16% opt for online shopping via the mobile. Retailers should also prepare for a spike in web and mobile traffic on busy days like Black Friday and take steps to prevent their websites or mobile apps crashing due to high demand.

Mr. Fowkes said: “Stock availability and returns policy are crucial for retailers in the Christmas shopping season.

“Most retailers have started preparing for this critical trading quarter as far as a year in advance, but even the best laid plans often go awry. Knowing what consumers want to buy and being able to offer the right product at a fair price will set a retailer apart from its competitors. This is even more important on a single trading day, such as Black Friday, when consumers rush to e-commerce stores for the best bargains.”