Nov 19, 2020
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Expect December in-store 'shopping frenzy' due to English lockdown, report warns

Nov 19, 2020

There’s a storm coming, and it’s nothing to do with winter weather. ShopperTrak is warning of an upcoming ‘festive shopping frenzy’, with twice as many English shoppers hitting the high streets and shopping centres in December’s three-week window between retail re-opening and Christmas.


Intensity rather than frequency will be key to in-store shopping for many, the report says, and for some, concerns over fulfilment issues have turned them away from online shopping.

Just 16% of shoppers had planned to leave Christmas shopping to the last minute in December, research among over 1,000 shoppers by ShopperTrak and Sensormatic shows. But due to the restrictions, 27% will now shop hard in the three-week window in December, “prompting concerns about safety and experience in stores”.

The top concern for 47% of UK consumers when considering Christmas shopping in-store is that other shoppers won’t respect social distancing. But while consumers wanted the two-metre rule to be upheld, 43% said long queues caused by social distancing would put them off shopping in-store during the festive period.

But in positive news for physical stores, 54% of UK shoppers still plan to shop in-store over Christmas, despite these concerns.

Interestingly, just 18% of consumers say they will do all of their festive shopping online. This was prompted by fears online fulfilment networks and warehouses will become overwhelmed, “causing the delays to deliveries as seen in the first lockdown, and risking gifts not arriving in time for the Big Day”.

The report revealed that 45% of consumers had already started Christmas shopping by the start of November, before the second lockdown restrictions came into place. A further 27%, who were planning to start gift buying this month in a bid to get ahead and avoid the December rush, had their plans thwarted by the new national restrictions, which sees non-essential retail closed until 3 December.

Andy Sumpter, ShopperTrak owner Sensormatic’s retail consultant for EMEA, said: “With the lockdown shutting non-essential retail for all but click-and-collect in November, there will be increasing pressures on the store come December. Retailers face a difficult balancing act between managing pent-up demand and compressed Christmas shopping footfall through the store and driving sales, all while keeping shoppers and colleagues safe”.

He added: “This year, on the whole, we expect to see customers shopping less frequently in-store but with more purpose, making each visit even more valuable to the retailer.

“While visits are fewer, the in-store conversion rates and baskets sizes are higher, so this dynamic of risk and reward places much more pressure on getting the in-store experience right in order to drive peak performance.  And this means retailers will need to hard-bake ‘SafeX’ (safe experiences) - rather than traditional CX (customer experience) - into in-store Christmas shopping journeys."

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