Retailers braced for festive shopping ‘frenzy’, research reveals

Festive shopping

The closure of non-essential retail during the second lockdown will see twice as many consumers surge on to the high street in a ‘three-week festive shopping frenzy’ in December, the latest ShopperTrak data from Sensormatic Solutions reveals.

Research from over 1,000 UK shoppers by Sensormatic revealed that 45 per cent of consumers had already started Christmas shopping by the start of November, before the second lockdown restrictions came into place.  A further 27 per cent, who were planning to start gift buying this month in a bid to get ahead and avoid the December rush, had their plans thwarted by the new national restrictions, which sees non-essential retail closed until 3 December.

Before the four-week November lockdown was announced, just 16 per cent of UK consumers said they would leave Christmas shopping to the last minute in December.  However, Sensormatic said its research suggests, twice as many shoppers will now be forced to hit the high street in December’s three week window between retail reopening and Christmas Day.

Sensormatic says that this will create a ‘three-week festive shopping frenzy’, prompted by fears online fulfilment networks and warehouses will become overwhelmed, causing the delays to deliveries as seen in the first lockdown, and risking gifts not arriving in time.

Andy Sumpter, Sensormatic’s retail consultant for EMEA, commented: “With the lockdown shutting non-essential retail for all but click-and-collect in November, there will be increasing pressures on the store come December.  Retailers face a difficult balancing act between managing pent-up demand and compressed Christmas shopping footfall through the store and driving sales, all while keeping shoppers and colleagues safe.”

While consumers wanted the 2-meter rule to be upheld, 43 per cent said long queues caused by social distancing, magnified by the three-week window to shop in December, would put them off shopping in-store during the festive period.  Yet, despite these concerns, 54 per cent of UK shoppers still plan to shop in-store over Christmas, while just 18 per cent of consumers say they will do all of their festive shopping online.

Mr Sumpter continued: “By leveraging insight from shopper traffic trends, retailers can optimise staff scheduling and inventory fulfilment, so they can seize the sales opportunities presented by peak trading footfall. This means they can also help retailers identify the best times for staff to walk the floor and serve customers during peak time, whilst also undertaking essential tasks, like restocking, regular hygiene measures or managing click and collect orders when the store is less busy.”

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