Shops still tops for Christmas shoppers

Nearly half (47 per cent) of UK shoppers would prefer to shop in-store rather than online over the Christmas period, new research has found.

A survey of 1,077 UK consumers by omni-channel shopping experts Rich Relevance, predicted volatile shopping behaviour from the public.

The majority (85 per cent) said they didn’t have a fixed time frame for gift shopping, but would rather buy on impulse in their free time or when they see something they like, either online or in-store.

Consumers were also getting their shopping done early, it said, with only nine per cent planning to shop at the last minute during the week before Christmas.

Shoppers also favoured in-store shopping over online because they could have items immediately (58 per cent), get ideas and inspiration for gifts (51 per cent) and know exactly what they were buying, with no hidden surprises (35 per cent).

Longer opening hours in the evenings and at weekends were also highly favoured, with seven out of 10 shoppers preferring retailers who provide this.

However, consumers said the biggest frustration (67 per cent) with shopping in-store was long queues at the tills. This was followed by busy traffic and parking (54 per cent) and out-of-stock items or unavailable sizes (53 per cent).

Click-and-collect services also gained favour with 60 per cent saying this was the most desirable aspect of buying in-store. Other favourable features included helpful sales assistants who could check on a purchase anywhere in the store using mobile checkouts (37 per cent), and self-service tablets and kiosks to check pricing, availability and view recommendations (36 per cent).

Consumers also showed more confidence with in-store credit card and data security, with 52 per cent saying it was not a worry. Card and mobile payments also looked set to dominate this Christmas period, with 75 per cent planning to pay this way.

“The high-street store remains an anchor for Christmas shoppers – whether for inspiration, convenience or immediate purchase gratification,” said Matthieu Chouard, vice-president and general manager, EMEA, at Rich Relevance. “Savvy retailers will recognise the opportunity to leverage their stores to deliver – or exceed – consumer demand for convenience and time savings this holiday season.”