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UK Christmas Gift Buying Market Report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Christmas Gift Buying 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

This report is one of a pair of reports looking at Christmas 2018. This report focuses on gifts and the implications of Christmas trading for the future of retailing in general. The other focuses on spending for the home, including on food. This report examines the retail sales performance in December 2018 and the impact on December of discounting in November.

The consumer research for the report looks at:

  • Who buys Christmas gifts?
  • How and where they bought?
  • What they bought?
  • Who they bought for?
  • How they got their gifts? (in-store or delivered)
  • What they spent on Christmas gifts in 2018?
  • Was it more or less than in 2017?
  • When they shop for Christmas gifts?
  • Consumer shopping behaviours in the lead-up to Christmas 2018?
  • Attitudes towards shopping at Christmas?

Key points included

  • Retailers’ performance over Christmas and a breakdown by major sector
  • The wider economic picture around Christmas and what it means for 2019
  • The growth of online, how it is changing and its impact on the development of retailing

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Thomas Slide, 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.

It was not a great Christmas, but it was not the disaster that some early reports suggested either. Demand slowed in the final quarter and some sales were pulled forward to November by early discounting. It’s an immensely challenging time for retailers, but whether they trade online, in stores or both, the basics of retailing have not changed and those that focus on getting this right continue to find opportunities for growth. Thomas Slide
Retail Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

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

          • The market
            • Retail sales grow 2.1% in December
              • Figure 1: Retail sales, by sector, year-on-year growth, December 2018
            • Real wages grow but confidence dips
              • Shift to online continues
                • Missing deliveries continues to worry many at Christmas
                  • Online searches for Argos increase while Amazon falls in week before Christmas
                    • Companies and brands
                      • Weak finish to the year for grocers
                        • Polarising performance for department stores
                          • Figure 2: Christmas sales performance of selected retailers, December 2018
                        • Adspend returns to growth in 2018
                          • Figure 3: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total and annual change in spending by retailers on advertising during Q4, 2014-18
                        • TV accounts for half of adspend
                          • Figure 4: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising spend by retailers, by media type, Q4 2018
                        • The consumer
                          • 65% spend Christmas at home
                            • Figure 5: Where they celebrated Christmas, December 2018
                          • Food and drink bought by 69%
                            • Figure 6: What they bought for the home at Christmas, December 2018
                          • Supermarkets lead for non-foods
                            • Figure 7: Where they shop for non-foods at Christmas, December 2018
                          • November the most popular time to start shopping for the home
                            • Figure 8: When they shop for non-foods for Christmas, December 2018
                          • Tesco dominates at Christmas
                            • Figure 9: Where they shopped for food and drink for Christmas 2018, December 2018
                          • Holding off for Black Friday
                            • Figure 10: Christmas shopping behaviours, December 2018
                          • What we think
                          • Issues and Insights

                            • Trading down or trading up? Grocery retailing at Christmas
                              • The facts
                                • The implications
                                  • The high street – exciting future or steady decline?
                                    • The facts
                                      • The implications
                                        • Outlook for shopping for the home in 2019
                                          • The facts
                                            • The implications
                                            • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                              • Retail sales grow 2.1% in December
                                                • Real wages grow but confidence dips
                                                  • Shift to online continues
                                                  • Retail Sales Performance

                                                    • Retail sales grow 2.1% in December
                                                      • Weak end to the year for the food retailers
                                                        • Household goods retailers perform strongly
                                                          • Non-store still growing
                                                            • Figure 11: Retail sales, by sector, year-on-year growth, December 2018 and all 2018
                                                        • Market Drivers

                                                          • Real wage growth improves
                                                            • Figure 12: Monthly year-on-year growth in prices and average weekly earnings, January 2017-December 2018
                                                          • Consumer confidence dips in second half of the year
                                                            • Figure 13: Consumer financial confidence, January 2017-January 2019
                                                          • Impact of Brexit
                                                            • Figure 14: Consumer reactions to the prospect of Brexit, July 2016-January 2019
                                                          • Housing market slows in 2018
                                                            • Figure 15: Residential property transactions over £40,000 (seasonally adjusted), monthly % change on a year earlier, 2018
                                                          • Falling home ownership among young people
                                                            • Figure 16: Housing tenure of 25-34 year olds, 2006/07-2016/07
                                                        • Online

                                                          • Online continues to grow
                                                            • Online food sales
                                                              • Figure 17: Proportion of all grocery sales going online, 2012-18
                                                            • Buying for the home online
                                                              • Figure 18: Online shopping for the home, by market category, 2013-18
                                                            • The risk of missed deliveries
                                                                • Figure 19: Attitudes towards Christmas, by age, December 2018
                                                              • Online searches peak on Black Friday
                                                                • Figure 20: Search popularity-related online search terms, 1 November- 25 December 2018
                                                            • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Weak finish to the year for grocers
                                                                • Polarising performance for department stores
                                                                  • Adspend returns to growth in 2018
                                                                  • The Retailers

                                                                    • Food retailers finishing on a weak note
                                                                        • Figure 21: Food retailers’ performance over Christmas, 2018
                                                                      • Department stores at the extremes
                                                                        • Figure 22: Department stores’ Xmas sales performance, 2018
                                                                      • Other specialists
                                                                        • Figure 23: Other store-based retailers’ Xmas sales performance, 2018
                                                                      • Non-store still growing strongest overall
                                                                        • Figure 24: Non-store retailers’ Xmas sales performance, 2018
                                                                    • Advertising and Marketing Activity

                                                                        • Adspend returns to growth in 2018
                                                                          • Figure 25: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail total and annual change in spending by retailers on advertising during Q4, 2014-18
                                                                        • Amazon dominates spending in Q4
                                                                          • Figure 26: Leading retailers’ spending on recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising, October-December 2018
                                                                        • 36% of spend takes place in Q4
                                                                          • Figure 27: Leading retailers’ spending on recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising, Q1-3 and Q4 split, 2018
                                                                        • TV accounts for half of spending
                                                                          • Figure 28: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising spend by retailers, by media type, Q4 2018
                                                                        • Supermarkets lead spending in Q4
                                                                          • Figure 29: Recorded above-the-line, online display and direct mail advertising spend by retailers, by advertiser type, Q4 2018
                                                                        • Key campaigns
                                                                          • Iceland ad that never made it to TV
                                                                            • M&S Food launched biggest ever campaign
                                                                              • Lidl targets the premium grocers
                                                                                • Figure 30: Lidl guerrilla marketing, November 2018
                                                                              • Retailers focus on preparing the home
                                                                                • Figure 31: B&Q Christmas email advertising, October 2018
                                                                                • Figure 32: B&Q Christmas email advertising (continued), October 2018
                                                                                • Figure 33: HomeSense Christmas email advertising, November 2018
                                                                                • Figure 34: John Lewis Christmas email, October 2018
                                                                              • Nielsen Ad Intel coverage
                                                                              • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                • 65% spend Christmas at home
                                                                                  • Food and drink bought by 69%
                                                                                    • Supermarkets lead for non-foods
                                                                                      • November the most popular time to start shopping for the home
                                                                                        • Premium grocers more popular at Christmas
                                                                                          • Holding off for Black Friday
                                                                                          • How They Celebrate Christmas

                                                                                            • 65% spend Christmas at home
                                                                                              • Figure 35: Where they celebrated Christmas, December 2018
                                                                                            • 16-24 year-olds most likely to host other festive events
                                                                                              • Figure 36: Other Christmas events hosted, December 2018
                                                                                          • What They Bought

                                                                                            • Food and drink a Christmas essential
                                                                                              • Figure 37: What they bought for the home at Christmas, December 2018
                                                                                            • Furniture bought by young hosts
                                                                                              • Figure 38: What they bought for the home for Christmas, by average age and affluence, December 2018
                                                                                          • Where They Shop for Non-Foods

                                                                                            • Supermarkets lead for non-foods
                                                                                              • Discount stores also appealing
                                                                                                • Figure 39: Where they shop for non-foods at Christmas, December 2018
                                                                                              • Supermarkets popular among late shoppers
                                                                                                • Figure 40: Where they shop for non-foods, by when they started shopping, December 2018
                                                                                              • Argos appeals to younger shoppers
                                                                                                • Figure 41: Where they shop for non-foods (excluding as gifts) for Christmas, by shopper profile, December 2018
                                                                                            • When They Shop

                                                                                              • November the most popular time to start shopping
                                                                                                • Figure 42: When they shop for non-foods for Christmas, December 2018
                                                                                              • Older shoppers most likely to leave it late
                                                                                                • Figure 43: When they shop for non-foods for Christmas, by age, December 2018
                                                                                              • Larger purchases require earlier planning
                                                                                                • Figure 44: What they bought for Christmas, by when they started shopping for non-foods, December 2018
                                                                                            • Where They Shop for Food

                                                                                              • Tesco dominates main grocery shopping
                                                                                                • M&S attracts more main shoppers at Christmas
                                                                                                  • Figure 45: Where they spent the most on food for Christmas 2018, December 2018
                                                                                                • Discounters are popular secondary shops
                                                                                                    • Figure 46: Where else they shopped for food for Christmas 2018, December 2018
                                                                                                  • Grocery shoppers are more loyal at Christmas
                                                                                                    • Figure 47: Repertoire analysis of retailers used to shop for groceries at Christmas, December 2018
                                                                                                • Christmas Shopping Behaviours

                                                                                                  • Holding off for Black Friday
                                                                                                    • Figure 48: Christmas shopping behaviours, December 2018
                                                                                                  • Millennials love themed items
                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Christmas shopping behaviours, by generation, December 2018
                                                                                                  • Premium retailers see most people trade up
                                                                                                      • Figure 50: Christmas shopping behaviours, by where they shopped for groceries (net any shopped), December 2018
                                                                                                    • A high street built for experience
                                                                                                      • Figure 51: Christmas shopping behaviours, by age and gender, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Young men struggle to make cut-off date for orders
                                                                                                        • Figure 52: Christmas shopping behaviours, by age and gender, December 2018
                                                                                                    • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                        • Abbreviations
                                                                                                          • Consumer research methodology