Dec 6, 2018
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UK Christmas fashion spend to fall - PwC

Dec 6, 2018

As the Christmas shopping season moves into high gear, the latest PwC shopping prediction suggests that spending will hold up reasonably well but consumers will actually be laying out less this year on fashion, although kidswear will be a priority.

Adult fashion is expected to take a back seat to kidswear on UK shoppers' Christmas priority lists

New Christmas trading analysis from the company shows UK shoppers are preparing to spend an average of £420 on Christmas presents this year with the 35-44 age group spending the most (£522), and shoppers in Scotland planning the  highest average spend (£454) across the UK.

Lisa Hooker, Consumer Markets Leader at PwC, said that means “some Christmas cheer for retailers as we close off 2018,” but that while “spending levels will be similar to last year, what people spend their money on may be different - it looks as though more money is being spent on the essentials.”

PwC spoke to 2,000 consumers and found some reason for cautious optimism as “absolute pay is growing faster than inflation and [the] consumer sentiment survey found that marginally more people think they will be better off in the coming year than worse off. It’s tentative, but promising.”

Around 20% of people started their Christmas shopping earlier this year, the results show, with the figure rising for under 35s in particular (over 30%). Twenty percent of consumers also said they did most of their Christmas shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, although the most popular time for buying Christmas presents is early-to-mid December. But, as always, there’s a tiny group of last-minute shoppers, mainly men, with 6% of respondents planning to shop the week before Christmas “because they have no time before then.”

The categories people will prioritise will be food and drink, especially Christmas dinner, and children’s clothing. The main categories where shoppers will spend less on gifts include adult clothing and electricals and technology, which were the two most popular categories of spending in the Black Friday sales.

Kien Tan, Retail Strategy Director at PwC, said: “With people saying they would spend more on electricals and fashion over Black Friday, it’s no surprise that those are the two categories cited as the lowest priorities for Christmas itself. Black Friday seems to have become the main period for indulgence, fun and self-gifting, while Christmas has reverted to its more virtuous roots.”

The analysts also expect that with the bulk of shopping activity set to take place online, consumers will be “taking no chances on potentially missing home deliveries and ‘click and collect’ deliveries are expected to grow at twice the rate of normal deliveries with the options available to consumers growing even faster.”

Kien Tan said collecting in-store or at lockers/other locations currently accounts for one-sixth of the overall online delivery market, “but whether its increased popularity will be enough to reverse the decline in high street footfall remains to be seen.”

PwC also said that this Christmas will see the biggest sustainability focus yet with the “scale of consumer interest in the topic [having] taken some in the industry by surprise.”

It said that one of the most talked about advertising campaigns this season has been around the impact of palm oil on rainforests and that “if current trends are anything to go by, other single issue campaigns are likely to emerge in the coming months, for which retailers need to be prepared.”

Lisa Hooker aded: “We believe the rising importance of sustainability will affect both where consumers shop and how they buy. We have seen retailers who have been ‘on the front foot’ on this see improvements in consumer awareness and favourability towards their brand. Secondly, there has been an increase in popularity of more sustainable buying choices, particularly amongst the young, with products from collectable toys to vegan leather and ethical beauty products that reflect the growing importance of the circular economy.”

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