LONDON: For British consumers, the arrival of Christmas is signalled not so much by a spate of seasonal advertising as by the sight of festive foodstuffs in store.

Research for customer experience agency Wunderman, conducted by YouGov, asked over 2,000 Britons about the food and drink they plan to buy this Christmas to better understand how consumers make shopping decisions.

This found that the single biggest prompt to thinking about Christmas was in-store food displays (cited by 19% of respondents), followed by Christmas TV ads (15%).

Continuing the food theme, a quarter (25%) of those surveyed indicated they would trade up to premium retailers or supermarket premium ranges for Christmas – and cheese (36%) is the foodstuff they are most likely to upgrade on.

When it comes to premium grocery brands, Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ was named by most respondents as their preferred trade-up option (13%), with Morrisons’ relatively new ‘The Best’ range just behind (12%), followed by ‘Tesco Finest’ (10%).

Both M&S and Waitrose were named by just 4%, while independent delis are set to be frequented by only 9%.

When shoppers were asked where they were likely to buy items beyond their usual stores, independent butchers and fishmongers received the greatest number of responses (37%), followed by Christmas markets (29%), independent bakers (26%), and farm shops (20%).

While the sight of Christmas foods in store may trigger thoughts about planning, many consumers (41%) leave actual purchase until the week before Christmas.

Just over one fifth (22%) start in the first two weeks of December, while a minority (8%) begin before November.

Inevitably, many people will spend more on food and drink over the Christmas period, but not necessarily that much more.

The research suggested that 16% will up their monthly budget by only £26-50, while 15% said it would increase by £76-100.

Overall, 48% said they would spend about the same as last Christmas, with a net of 21% set to spend more compared with 12% who would spend less. And most shoppers who create a budget (85%) said they stick to it.

Sourced from Wunderman; additional content by WARC staff