PwC has predicted that UK consumers will spend up to £21 billion in total over the Christmas period, with an average of £428 spent on Christmas presents and celebrations.

That average spend of £428 per person is up from £384 last year, according to PwC’s festive predictions research. The increase, which is seen across all age ranges and regions, means a total spend of £21 billion on presents and celebrations, a 12 per cent increase on 2020. 

Given the disruptions last year, the increased spend is driven in part by more people planning to spend Christmas with extended family, leading to more gifting opportunities, more celebratory food and drink and more Christmas socialising.

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Meanwhile, recent price inflation means people expect they will need to spend more. 

Following an unsurprising but significant shift towards online shopping in the past year, online will be the big winner again this Christmas. Millennials remain the most active online shopping age group and London is the most likely region to buy online. The convenience of click and collect services, as more workers return to the office, has also driven online spend.

Over two thirds, 67 per cent, of Christmas spend will be online, edging closer to the 83 per cent online spend over Black Friday, an event that has been predominantly an online phenomenon in the UK in recent years. This shift has been exacerbated by famous high street brands closing high street stores and being bought by online players. 

The first two weeks of December will again be the busiest for Christmas shopping but more than half of consumers will have bought most of their presents by the end of November, earlier than we have seen in previous years. Concerns over stock levels, delivery times and further impacts of Covid are forcing consumers to shop earlier than usual to avoid disappointment.

Black Friday

After waning in popularity over the past five years Black Friday is back on this year with an estimated £9 billion to be spent during the shopping event. A quarter of consumers are definitely going to buy in this year’s Black Friday sales, while the vast majority are interested or may buy, showing a marked resurgence ahead of 2019 levels. 

Interestingly, Black Friday sales are not driven by early Christmas shopping with consumers instead buying for themselves, especially men, where 74 per cent will buy for themselves. The majority of shoppers will buy less than a quarter of Christmas presents during Black Friday, with a mere three per cent using the event to buy all their gifts.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets lead at PwC, said; “Christmas this year may not be completely back to normal but consumers are determined to make it a good one and many are prepared to spend up to 20 per cent more than last year. Spending habits will be more traditional with a focus on food and drink, Christmas dinner and stocking fillers as opposed to homewares and toys. Concerns over stock availability is also driving a desire to shop early this festive period.

“Black Friday is back with a bang and it’s clear that there has been a resurgence in the number of people looking to participate in the event, with men spending more and hoping to grab a bargain.  Retailers will want to take advantage of the renewed interest in the event, but they will look to balance delighting customers with good value, stock availability and profitability ahead of the important Christmas trading period.

“We know consumers are looking to spend significantly online – for both Christmas and Black Friday – so retailers need to think about how they can get the best from that scenario. Early shopping offers retailers the opportunity to reduce delivery costs and pressures, manage demand to reduce the cost of seasonal workers, control pricing to protect margins, and offer certainty of delivery to consumers.”

The report is based on an online survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,004 adults conducted between 19 and 22 October.

www.pwc.co.uk

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