Retailers have already started offering discounts ahead of Black Friday on 27 November as figures reveal shoppers are set to spend the same amount or more on Christmas gifts than in 2014.
According to the figures from analytics firm SAS, price is going to be the biggest factor in gift-buying, with 75 per cent of shoppers ranking it as their most important consideration. Getting a bargain polled 51 per cent of votes, with having the item in stock getting 46 per cent of votes.
A fifth of respondents said they have a higher budget this year to indulge family and friends. The most optimistic age group is the 18-29 year olds, with 29 per cent planning to spend more, and they are also billed as being the most likely to spend money on Black Friday.
But considering that age bracket’s behaviour is thought of as the most difficult to predict because they compare prices online and shop accordingly, this adds up to uncertainty for retailers, the research claimed.
Andrew Fowkes, head of retail centre of excellence, SAS UK and Ireland, said: “Retailers are facing the most unpredictable Christmas shopping period yet. Black Friday has changed market dynamics from a fulfilment and a predictability perspective, and is set to be the busiest trading day for many this year.
“Price wars are extremely difficult to forecast and cater for when squeezed into a shorter timeframe. If retailers don’t attract enough customers they lose out, if they can’t deliver on what they promise they lose out. Only by having insights into current and previous shopping behaviour, stock performance and competitive discount ratios, will retailers prosper. While it’s good news that spending is on the rise, not all retailers will feel the Christmas cheer.”
Retailers also need to brace for an increase in online purchases being returned in store, the research revealed.
A third of those questioned said they were likely to return or exchange gifts after the festive period. Of those, 12 per cent said they would do it by mail, but the remainder said they would prefer to do it in person at the store.
Fowkes said: “For the second year running, we expect more consumers to take advantage of ‘Click & Collect’ services for ease of convenience during busy periods. However, retailers must also prepare for shoppers returning online purchases in store. This pattern could become known as ‘Return & Run’ where they simply return unwanted items, or even ‘Drop & Shop’ where shoppers decide to choose something else while they’re in the store."
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