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With the Christmas countdown now on, new research reveals that there are still lucrative opportunities for merchants to snap up a chunk of the nation’s festive spend.

Two in five Brits admit they won’t finish their festive shopping until a week or less before the big day, compared to the 30% that finish with at least three weeks to spare.

In a survey of 2,000 UK consumers by Klarna, it was revealed that 45-54 year olds are most likely to leave their shopping until the last minute. Half of this age group admit that they won’t have finished until there’s a week or less to go, whereas nearly 40% of millennials have their shopping done and dusted at least three weeks in advance.

Gifts are at the top of the list for those leaving their shopping until the eleventh hour. Almost 40% of their festive spend goes on presents, followed by 20% on Christmas groceries and a lot less on everything else – including decorations, outfits and going out.

Fashion items are the gift of choice for last minute shoppers, with 40% choosing to buy clothes and shoes as presents. These shoppers are also more likely than early-birds to gift beauty products (33% vs 29%), stocking fillers (26% vs 20%) and money (22% vs 19%), suggesting they prefer smaller, cheaper and easier gifts.

Luke Griffiths, UK general manager of Klarna said, “While the frenzy of Black Friday may be over, there is still plenty of opportunity for retailers to capitalise on festive spending, particularly online.

“Merchants are in a great position to lessen the Christmas shopping burden and appeal to these last minute shoppers with targeted offers, a streamlined, hassle-free experience and flexible payment options.

Though early buyers spent on average £264 more than last minute shoppers last year, those purchasing last minute are more likely to blow their budgets due to present paranoia, with 24% admitting they overspend out of guilt that they haven’t bought enough.

This may explain why they also have an eye for a bargain, with the data revealing they are more likely to shop with retailers promoting festive deals and offers (54% vs 40%) and pre-Christmas sales (46% vs 38%).

With little time to spare, it’s no surprise that convenience is a top priority for last minute shoppers, who are fitting in shopping around busy schedules. While 59% of last minute shoppers will visit stores during weekends and 56% will shop online in the evenings, this is true for just 40% and 42% of early buyers.

Those doing last minute shopping online are more likely to make impulse buys (42% vs 36%) and are less likely to stick to a planned list (33% vs 26%), meaning this is prime time for retailers to reach shoppers with targeted offers and inspiration.

Last minute shoppers are also more likely to shop with a merchant if checking out is quick and easy (34% vs 24%), if there are last minute deliveries (19% vs 15%) and if the merchant has an easy to navigate mobile site (15% vs 10%).

The data highlights that allowing shoppers to stagger their payments, interest-free, could increase retailers’ sales. Both early and last minute shoppers agree that options such as buy now pay later or pay after delivery would make them more likely to shop with a merchant. This means that by offering more flexible payment opportunities, the total uplift in sales for UK merchants over the festive season could reach £2.3 billion.

Mr. Griffiths added: “By understanding the needs of different shoppers during the festive period and optimising e-commerce offerings, retailers can gain competitive advantage and give Christmas sales a welcome boost.”