| Retail

It’s that time of the year again: city lights and decorations are up, department store windows have been revealed, wishlists are being updated.

Christmas – the favorite season for a lot of people (75% of people consider it “exciting”) – and the biggest sales surge in the retail calendar is around the corner. Many retailers and vendors are preparing for the 2015 holiday shopping season, finalizing the last details of their strategy & campaigns to attract as many Christmas shoppers as possible on all of their distribution channels.

eBay’s yearly report* has revealed a number of key figures that any retailer – especially online retailers – should keep in mind in order to engage in the right way with customers for the upcoming Christmas season.

  • Anticipated shopping

⅓ of all people are saving money throughout the year in expectation of Christmas. 14% of them are even reducing other expenses to compensate. Women go even further based on 11% of them selling items they no longer use to optimize the Christmas pot.

While 12% of households think about Christmas gifts all year long, the majority of people anticipate their Christmas shopping with 45% starting to shop in November (half of them are households with children – 55%.) or even sooner, as Pam Goodfellow** declares: “bringing out the Christmas tree and starting the carols the day after Halloween almost seems kind of late.”

Most customers have a mental budget of what they will spend for Christmas (gifts, decorations, food, etc.) The sooner those customers spend money reserved for holiday purchases, the less they will spend when it comes to the traditional time to think about buying holiday presents.

  • A substantial budget for great deals

The average total budget foreseen for Christmas gifts is 254€ (20€ higher than in 2014 – the highest budget raise since 2011 ) for an average number of 9 gifts (1 more than in 2014), and an average foreseen budget of 28,20€ for each of them.

Almost ⅓ of 45+ year old people plan on spending more than 400€.

Although the foreseen budget is substantial, 50% of people intend to buy presents online to get a good deal.

The pricing strategy of online retailers as well as the content of their online offer play a huge role in the choice of this particular distribution channel for (Christmas) presents: people are looking for the best present, at the lowest price / in alignment with their budget.

Looking for additional savings, online buyers are also interested in coupons, regularly checking specialized websites providing vouchers that can be redeemed online, making the online prices even more attractive.

  • Family first

People on average intend to spoil 7 of their relatives. Children are taking the lion’s share with a dedicated budget of 186€ on average (24€ more than last year.)

Families with kids are the ones who spend the most for Christmas presents with an average budget of 277€ (against 240€ for childless households.) Those with kids also intend to buy more presents with 11 foreseen gift boxes (against 7 for childless households.)

People also intend to spend around 106€ for their partners, men being more generous with a budget of 122€ (against 90€ for women)

  • Multichannel Marketing with added value for e-commerce

More than half of the respondents intend to buy at least one present online (58% of the 25-34 years old and 40% of the 55+ year olds)

Households with children are more inclined to do their Christmas shopping online: 59% intend on buying at least one gift from the web (against 47% of childless households)

Despite the desktop remaining the prime device for purchasing products, mobile phone and tablet orders are on a steep incline. 51% of the respondents intend to buy from a computer and 25% from either their smartphone or tablet.

Since it is never easy to find the ideal present, many people search for inspiration on the web… and in the end find themselves purchasing it online as well. Comprehensive and consistent product information and relevant digital assets are crucial to this purchasing decision phase for the consumer, so retailers have to make sure they present a seamless customer experience across all channels.

Finding that quality present often means pounding the streets and visiting several physical shops before finding the real gem. It is way easier and quicker to compare multiple retailers by directly visiting their e-commerce websites. Here again, quality product information is the key to substantially differentiate from competitors.

It often happens that the desired product is no longer available in the physical shop(s). Instead of waiting for the next delivery, people alternatively prefer to look for it online, since e-shops often have larger product choices than local brick-and-mortar shops.

Some online vendors offer the opportunity to create a product from A to Z or to customize it i.e. in the ready-to-wear industry. This is an appreciated opportunity for those who wish to add a personal touch to their presents.

The internet is the ideal way to order and have a gift delivered to someone who is geographically out of reach without having to go through the post office and pay outrageous shipping fees.

As a conclusion, we can affirm that people are definitely excited about Christmas and anticipating this holiday, they possess over a certain, increased budget in 2015 and intend to please their relatives, especially children – great news for retailers! They turn more and more to online shopping – great news for E-Commerce! – because they are are looking for great deals, easier & quicker shopping, and access to products and features that are not available in their physical stores. Although the Marketing strategy has to be consistent throughout all distribution channels, the online/mobile experience and offers should have an added value in order to adapt to the “picky” online shopper expectations.

*TNS Sofres study for eBay ‘Les Français et Noël’ was conducted online in September 2015 by 2 425 adults from 16 to 64 years old and representative of the French population.

**principal analyst and consumer insights director at Prosper Insights.

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