LONDON: Almost half of shoppers in the UK intend to keep a tight rein on their Christmas spending, as habits inculcated over the past few years of economic downturn become second nature.

For its new report – WindowOn … Spending Habits – shopper research agency Shoppercentric surveyed more than 1,000 adults and found that 44% of UK consumers said they needed to keep to a strict budget this year. And 29% agreed that the economic downturn had taught them to be careful and they wanted to keep it that way.

Further evidence of the continued straitened circumstances of the nation came in the statistic that only 5% of those surveyed said they had more money available this year and would be spending more than last year.

"The powers that be may be telling us that the UK is in growth again but our research shows 60% of UK shoppers are still experiencing rising costs while their income remains static and a further 14% are dealing with a job loss or pay reduction," said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric.

But she expected that shoppers would be not be depriving themselves, rather "using their carefully honed savviness to make their money stretch further".

With that in mind, two thirds of shoppers (65%) said they would choose the channel – online or in-store – that gave them the best price.

And just as many expected to make gift purchases in store (78%) as online via desktop or laptop (77%). Further, some 19% planed on buying via a tablet and 14% via their smartphone.

In addition to possible price factors, another major reason for shopping online was imply to avoid the crowds – 47% expressed this sentiment. But slightly more (50%) were prepared to brave the hordes to ensure they got the right present.

One in five (21%) also refused to shop online amid worries a present would not be delivered on time.

Pinnington argued that the rise in popularity of click & collect would help to drive more shoppers in-store. This, she said "presents retailers with a huge opportunity to really lay on the ambience, and roll out the tempting displays to play to their strengths and encourage incremental purchasing.

"If they could tempt each of those customers to pick up just one extra item in addition to their parcel collection, retailers will be able to deliver a seriously big uplift in sales," she said.

Data sourced from Shoppercentric; additional content by Warc staff