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Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Christmas Gift Buying - UK market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

The build-up to Christmas 2019 presented retailers with a unique set of challenges. Brexit uncertainty, both prior to the initial October deadline and then the general election of December, combined with a later-falling Black Friday placed a greater focus on value and conservatism in spending from consumers. The result was the lowest growth in value terms (+1.9%) since 2015 and a fiercely competitive environment where much of the demand was served during Black Friday or on promotion.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Nick Carroll, a leading analyst in the Retail sector, his extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

A combination of political and economic uncertainty, a later-falling Black Friday and continued growth in online created a uniquely challenging trading environment for retailers to contend with in 2019 and produced the slowest growth within the sector for four years. Whilst some elements of the lead-up to 2019 were, hopefully, one-offs, the changing attitudes towards gifting during Christmas are not, which poses longer-term challenges for those tapping into Christmas gift giving Nick Carroll
Retail Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Macro-economic conditions were broadly positive in the lead-up…
              • Figure 1: Real incomes growth: average weekly earnings growth versus inflation, Jan 2016-Jan 2020
            • …but political uncertainty disrupted demand
              • Figure 2: Financial confidence tracker, Jan 2018 – Dec 19
            • Uncertainty allowed Black Friday to shine
              • Figure 3: Behaviours of Black Friday shoppers, December 2019
            • Retail sales remain positive but see lowest growth for four years
              • Figure 4: Growth in all retail sales (excluding fuel) November and December combined, non-seasonally adjusted, 2015-19
            • Online the standout winner of 2019
              • Figure 5: Online share of all retail sales, by month, Oct-Dec 2017-19
            • Leading players
              • Food sales hold up well, but non-foods suffer
                • Figure 6: Key retail categories value growth in November and December 2019
              • Above-the-line expenditure dips in 2019
                • Figure 7: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total and annual change in spending by retailers on advertising during Q4, 2015-19
              • A glitter-free and greener Christmas for retailers
                • Figure 8: M&S glitter free cards and gift wrapping, 2019
              • The consumer
                • 86% gave Christmas gifts in 2019
                  • Figure 9: Who they give gifts to, December 2018 and 2019
                • Similar numbers now shop online compared to in-store
                  • Figure 10: How they shop for Christmas gifts, December 2019
                • Growth in the gifting of beauty and personal care products
                  • Figure 11: What consumers give as gifts for Christmas, December 2018 and 2019
                • Spending falls in 2019
                  • Figure 12: Average spending on gifts for Christmas 2019, by age, December 2019
                • Significant demand comes before November
                  • Figure 13: When gift buyers began their shopping, December 2019
                • Most ask recipients what they would like
                  • Figure 14: The pre-Christmas present buying process, December 2019
                • Sustainability high on the agenda
                  • Figure 15: Attitudes to Christmas gift buying, December 2019
                • What we think
                • Issues and Insights

                  • Less is more: a one-off or an emerging trend?
                    • The facts
                      • The implications
                        • Christmas Creep: A way to tackle Black Friday?
                          • The facts
                            • The implications
                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                              • Macro-economic conditions were broadly positive in the lead-up…
                                • …but political uncertainty disrupted demand
                                  • Uncertainty allowed Black Friday to shine
                                    • Retail sales remain positive but see lowest growth for four years
                                      • Online the standout winner of 2019
                                      • Market Drivers: The lead up to Christmas 2019

                                        • The macro backdrop paints a mixed picture
                                          • Figure 16: Real incomes growth: average weekly earnings growth versus inflation, Jan 2016-Jan 2020
                                        • Retail sales hold up, but demand has been held back
                                          • Figure 17: All retail sales, excluding fuel, non-seasonally adjust value and volume growth, Jan 2018 – Dec 2019
                                          • Figure 18: All retail sales (excluding fuel), annual non-seasonally adjust value growth, food, non-food and non-store, 2015-19
                                        • Confidence takes a dip in the lead-up to Christmas
                                          • Figure 19: Financial confidence tracker, Jan 2018 – Dec 19
                                        • The hit to confidence in October is important
                                          • Figure 20: Impact on spending plans by potential ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario, September 2019
                                      • Retail Sales Performance

                                          • Overall demand looked to hold up well in December…
                                            • Figure 21: All retail sales (excluding fuel) growth in December in value and volume, non-seasonally adjusted, 2015-19
                                            • Figure 22: Retail sales growth: ONS vs BRC, Jan 2018 – Dec 2019
                                          • …however, when Black Friday is accounted for demand looks weaker
                                            • Figure 23: Growth in all retail sales (excluding. fuel) November and December combined, non-seasonally adjusted, 2015-19
                                          • A poor Christmas for store-based non-food retailers
                                            • Figure 24: Growth in all retail sales (excluding fuel), by major category. November and December combined, non-seasonally adjusted, 2017-19
                                        • Black Friday

                                          • Black Friday is no longer a single day
                                            • 38% of consumers purchased during Black Friday 2019
                                              • Figure 25: What consumers purchased during Black Friday 2019, December 2019
                                            • Gifting an important part of Black Friday
                                              • Figure 26: Who they bought for during Black Friday 2019, December 2019
                                            • There is scepticism around deals, but Black Friday does displace demand
                                              • Figure 27: Behaviours of Black Friday shoppers, December 2019
                                          • Online

                                            • Online continues to grow, although growth slows in 2019
                                              • Figure 28: All online retail sales growth, and online as a % of all retail sales, 2016-19
                                            • Online-only retailers grow their share of the online market in 2019
                                              • Figure 29: Share of online retail sales by type of retailer, 2015-19
                                            • The trends in the festive period mirrored the wider year
                                              • Figure 30: Online share of all retail sales, by month, Oct-Dec 2017-19
                                          • Leading Retailers– What You Need to Know

                                            • Food sales hold up well, but non-foods suffer
                                              • The discounters outperform the market
                                                • Online players excel
                                                  • Above-the-line expenditure dips in 2019
                                                    • A glitter-free and greener Christmas for retailers
                                                    • Retailer Christmas Trading Performance

                                                        • Retail sales performance by sector
                                                            • Figure 31: Retail sales, by sector, year-on-year growth, December 2019
                                                          • Reported retailers’ results
                                                            • Grocers: value players come out on top
                                                              • Figure 32: Food retailers’ reported Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                              • Figure 33: Specialist food and drink retailers’ Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                            • Fashion: online-only players quickest growing
                                                              • Figure 34: Fashion retailers’ Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                            • Department stores: John Lewis has a difficult Christmas
                                                              • Figure 35: Department stores’ Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                            • Electricals, home and furniture: a mixed picture
                                                              • Figure 36: Electricals, home and furniture specialists’ Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                            • Mixed goods and miscellaneous specialists
                                                              • Figure 37: Mixed goods and miscellaneous specialists’ Christmas sales performance, 2019
                                                          • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                              • Fourth quarter advertising expenditure declines in 2019
                                                                • Figure 38: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total and annual change in spending by retailers on advertising during Q4, 2015-19
                                                              • Amazon is the biggest advertising spender in Q4
                                                                • Figure 39: Leading retailers’ spending on recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising, October-December 2019
                                                              • 35% of spend takes place in Q4
                                                                • Figure 40: Leading retailers’ spending on recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising, Q1-3 and Q4 split, 2019
                                                              • TV dominates spending in Q4
                                                                • Figure 41: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising spend by retailers, by media type, Q4 2019
                                                              • Supermarkets lead spending in Q4
                                                                • Figure 42: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising spend by retailers, by advertiser type, Q4 2019
                                                              • Key campaigns
                                                                • John Lewis and Waitrose
                                                                  • Figure 43: John Lewis and Waitrose ‘Excitable Edgar’, 2019
                                                                • Argos Book of Dreams Christmas advert
                                                                  • Figure 44: Argos ‘Book of Dreams’ advert, 2019
                                                                • IKEA’s ‘Silence the Critics’ campaign
                                                                  • Figure 45: IKEA’s ‘Silence the Critics’ advert, 2019
                                                                • Homebase unveiled its first Christmas advert since 2015
                                                                  • Figure 46: The Monster Fairy from Homebase Christmas advert, 2019
                                                                • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                • Trends and Innovations for Christmas 2019

                                                                  • Retailers spread the spirit of Christmas with festive pop-ups
                                                                    • A gift for every ‘type’ with Boots ‘Bootique’ pop-ups
                                                                      • Figure 47: Boot’s Bootique pop-ups, 2019
                                                                    • White Stuff opens its first pop-up for Christmas
                                                                      • Figure 48: White Stuff pop-up store at St Pancras International station, 2019
                                                                    • Sainsbury’s Giving Store
                                                                      • Figure 49: Sainsbury’s Giving Store, 2019
                                                                    • Chocolate gets personal with retailers’ festive customisation deals
                                                                      • John Lewis’ Kit Kat personalisation service in-store
                                                                        • Figure 50: Create your own Kit Kat at John Lewis, 2019
                                                                      • ‘Pick and mix’ your own box of chocolate Lindt at Sainsbury’s
                                                                        • Figure 51: A Lindt Lindor stall at Sainsbury’s in Chiswick, 2019
                                                                      • John Lewis aimed to delight customers with a new and exclusive Quality Street service
                                                                        • Figure 52: John Lewis customisable Quality Street service, 2019
                                                                      • A glitter-free and ‘greener’ Christmas for retailers
                                                                        • M&S removes glitter from its entire Christmas range
                                                                          • Figure 53: M&S glitter free cards and gift wrapping, 2019
                                                                        • Lush’s conveyor belt of naked gifts
                                                                          • Figure 54: Lush Christmas gift conveyor belt, 2019
                                                                          • Figure 55: Lush Christmas advent calendar, 2019
                                                                        • Aldi’s sustainable Christmas trees
                                                                          • A Christmas Tale retold
                                                                            • Liberty London Bonsai tree
                                                                              • Figure 56: The Tree of Liberty, 2019
                                                                            • Selfridges ‘modern’ Christmas shop
                                                                              • Figure 57: Selfridges’ Christmas shop, 2019
                                                                            • Lancôme St Pancras pop-up
                                                                              • Figure 58: Lancôme pop up at St Pancras International, 2019
                                                                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                            • 86% gave Christmas gifts in 2019
                                                                              • Similar numbers now shop online compared to in-store
                                                                                • Growth in the gifting of beauty and personal care products
                                                                                  • Spending falls in 2019
                                                                                    • Significant demand comes before November
                                                                                      • Sustainability high on the agenda
                                                                                        • Most ask recipients what they would like
                                                                                          • There is support for the high street, but price and convenience still the priority
                                                                                          • Who They Give Gifts To

                                                                                            • Gift buying for Christmas in 2019 is a family affair
                                                                                              • Figure 59: Who they give gifts to, December 2018 and 2019
                                                                                            • Mothers with young children have the widest repertoire to buy for
                                                                                              • Figure 60: Repertoire of the number of recipients Christmas gifts bought for, December 2019
                                                                                          • How They Purchase Gifts

                                                                                            • Young shoppers most likely to use smartphones for Christmas gift buying
                                                                                                • Figure 61: How consumers bought Christmas gifts, December 2018 and 2019
                                                                                              • Consumers use both in-store and online channels for Christmas gift buying
                                                                                                • Figure 62: How they shop for Christmas gifts, December 2019
                                                                                            • What They Buy

                                                                                              • Females both old and young buy beauty and personal care items as gifts
                                                                                                • Books remain a popular Christmas gift
                                                                                                  • Food and Drink continues to be an important part of celebrating Christmas
                                                                                                    • Gifting of toys and games during Christmas becomes more popular compared to 2018
                                                                                                      • Figure 63: What consumers give as Christmas gifts, December 2018 and 2019
                                                                                                  • How Much They Spent

                                                                                                    • A fifth say they spent more this Christmas
                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Changes in spending on Christmas gifts, December 2019
                                                                                                    • On average, consumers spent £326 on Christmas gifts in 2019
                                                                                                        • Figure 65: Average spending on gifts for Christmas 2019, by age, December 2019
                                                                                                      • Parents spend far more
                                                                                                        • Figure 66: Average spending on gifts for Christmas 2019, by parental status and age of children, December 2019
                                                                                                    • When They Buy

                                                                                                      • 39% have started their Christmas shopping by October
                                                                                                        • Figure 67: When gift buyers began their shopping, December 2019
                                                                                                      • Females aged 45-64 most likely to start their shopping early
                                                                                                        • Figure 68: When gift buyers began their shopping, by age and gender, December 2019
                                                                                                      • Those with young children more likely to spend the most early
                                                                                                        • Figure 69: When gift buyers began their shopping, December 2019
                                                                                                      • Targeting shoppers early has significant benefits
                                                                                                        • Figure 70: When gift buyers began their shopping, by age and gender, December 2019
                                                                                                    • The Pre-Gift Buying Process

                                                                                                      • Most get gift ideas from the recipient
                                                                                                        • More look for inspiration online than in-store
                                                                                                          • List building important
                                                                                                            • Promotions are waited for
                                                                                                              • Figure 71: The pre-Christmas present buying process, December 2019
                                                                                                          • Attitudes Towards Christmas Gift Giving

                                                                                                            • The level of discounting around Christmas means there is little need to pay full price
                                                                                                              • Figure 72: Attitudes towards promotions and Brexit, December 2019
                                                                                                            • Sustainability high on the agenda and could point towards the future of gift giving
                                                                                                                • Figure 73: Attitudes toward sustainable gift giving, December 2019
                                                                                                              • There is support for the high-street, but price perceptions still value online
                                                                                                                  • Figure 74: Attitudes toward sustainable gift giving, December 2019
                                                                                                              • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                • Data sources
                                                                                                                  • VAT
                                                                                                                    • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                      • Consumer research methodology

                                                                                                                      About the report

                                                                                                                      This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                      • The Consumer

                                                                                                                        What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                      • The Competitors

                                                                                                                        Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                      • The Market

                                                                                                                        Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                      • The Innovations

                                                                                                                        New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                      • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                        Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                      • The Trends

                                                                                                                        What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                      Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                                                                                      Description