Dec 10, 2020
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Global festive shoppers buy clothing, keen to return to shops - Capgemini

Dec 10, 2020

The pandemic is clearly affecting festive season shopping with new figures on Thursday showing that as many as 76% of international consumers have done less holiday shopping than usual so far.

Global consumers still want a physical festive shopping experience - Image: Public domain

That's perhaps no surprise given that shops in large parts of mainland Europe, the UK and the US have been closed due to lockdowns or semi-lockdowns for a big chunk of the season.

Despite this, the future looks more promising as 62% of consumers would like to return to their previous shopping habits once the pandemic is over, with 64% saying that they miss shopping in-store, according to Capgemini research.

The company’s second release of its holiday trends research spoke to more than 7,500 people in the UK, US, Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark.

And it showed shows that consumers “are displaying caution in their spending this season” with that 76% figure quoted earlier likely to be a huge disappointment for retailers as 45% of them had expected an increase in sales.

The drop in spending is mainly due to ongoing pandemic restrictions (in 31% of cases) that are preventing consumers from shopping in physical spaces. But this is also coupled with a fall in disposable income (21%), as well as people giving fewer gifts because they’re seeing fewer family members (20%).

But in a rare boost for the fashion industry, these factors are also impacting what consumers are buying. While 48% of holiday season purchases are for essential items, consumers are still prioritising clothing (33%), as well as beauty/personal care products (27%) and electrical items (17%). That clothing may be cosy loungewear with a festive twist rather than the usual sequinned party dresses and high heels, but with retailers having adapted their offer to the new normal, any sale is a bonus this year.

It’s significant that 28% of consumers cite discounts as the most influential factor when making a purchase, and say that the importance of price can’t be underestimated. As many as 31% are focused on buying only the things they need, but 28% indicate that they’ve been persuaded by a discount to buy something they hadn’t planned to purchase. And a sizeable minority (15%) have yet to buy something in the hope of a better deal soon, while 57% say they’ve made the most of free shipping options this year. 

It’s no shock that 50% of consumers have shopped more online this festive season and that 23% have purchased more locally produced goods than in previous years. As many as 28% had never shopped online before the pandemic, but 50% are now more comfortable with this channel and say they’ll shop online more in future.

But as mentioned at the start of this story, the outlook for in-store shopping is also positive. While the preference for in-store shopping on Black Friday dropped from 39% last year to 28% this year (according to Capgemini’s first holiday season survey), findings from the second study, which focuses solely on consumer attitudes, suggest shoppers are missing the in-store experience. The figures quoted earlier show a clear majority wanting to get back to visiting the shops as they used to. 

But the shopping trips will be different than they were pre-pandemic as it seems that consumers want retailers to retain some of the habits developed since the lockdown. Some 42% said that contactless payments and self-service kiosks encouraged them to go back into physical shops after lockdowns and as many as 59% want such features to remain.

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