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With another Christmas of uncertainty, new research from Mintel reveals that the nation is taking to self-gifting as a quarter (24%) of Brits plan to splash out on a gift for themselves this year, rising to 42% of 16-24s.

Meanwhile, for those treating others, an experience-based present may be just the ticket as a quarter (25%) of consumers expect to spend more on experience-based gifts this Christmas than in previous years (i.e. days out), rising to half (48%) of 16-24s.

Mintel forecasts that 2021 festive spending* will be up 2.8% against 2019 – the most effective comparison to 2021 given last year’s high street disruption. This year’s overall Christmas spending* is predicted to be broadly flat (0.5%) compared to 2020. Meanwhile, with the high street up and running, Mintel estimates that store-based retail sales will increase 7.3% compared to 2020.

Overall, Mintel forecasts that retail sales this November and December (both in-store and online food and non-food) are expected to hit £84.3 billion in 2021, up from £83.9 billion in 2020.

The desire to get back to physical shopping is strong with 63% of Brits saying they missed the usual atmosphere of visiting shops around Christmas 2020 and 43%** of consumers looking forward to shopping on the high street this Christmas. Nevertheless, 43%** plan on doing more of their Christmas shopping online this year compared to last year.

The supply chain crisis looms heavily on the nation, driving over half (55%)** of British families*** to shop**** early this Christmas with more than a third (36%) of Brits worried about product shortages. This comes as Mintel reveals that a quarter (25%) of Brits are planning on stockpiling food and drink.

Nick Carroll, Associate Director of Retail Research at Mintel, said:

“Although last Christmas achieved decent sales growth of 2%, given the disruption of the past few years, the high street needs a good Christmas this year. Footfall this November has been encouraging, and it is clear that some purchasing has been pushed earlier once again. Supply chain concerns are playing their part in this, as 40% of all consumers say that concerns over shortages mean they have or will start their shopping earlier this year. Notably this attitude is strongest among parents, particularly those with younger children.

“Given the disruption of the past few Christmases, it’s understandable that people are looking to treat themselves with self-gifting this year, and young people, in particular, are looking for a pick-me-up. While value for money will be crucial, and there are other concerns, including the recent news about the Omicron variant, there is also a desire to meet with those who couldn’t be seen last Christmas. Over a quarter (28%)** of shoppers say they plan to see more people this year, rising to half (53%)** of 16-34s; meaning they’ll expect to buy more gifts – which in turn will boost the number of gifts being bought. Financial pressures may mean that some shoppers revert to smaller but a higher number of gifts, while we also expect the growing trend of ‘secret santas’ and other types of gift exchanges to accelerate.

“The constant media focus on Omicron, combined with multi-generational mixing at Christmas may mean many will look to limit time in crowded areas before the big day. This may mean the traditional ‘last week’ rush, comes earlier with early December likely to be particularly busy on UK high streets. With the new COVID variant and mask-wearing coming back, it’s imperative retailers do all they can to reassure people that shopping in-store is safe to allow them to capitalise on the goodwill towards physical retail this Christmas.”

Note to Editors

*Retail sales in both November and December

**2,000 consumers questioned in October 2021

***those with children under 18

****shop/will shop

Fieldwork carried out in November 2021