Big shifts in the way people plan to shop this festive season are leaving UK marketers fearful they are not ready to react and respond.

A clear majority of marketers (58%) are concerned they won’t be able to adapt their marketing efforts to take into account changes in consumer behaviour; and this jumps to 80% for brands with revenues between £100 million and £499 million, research from agency BlueVenn finds. 

Some 45% of UK consumers say they will dramatically change the way they shop this year, with that figure rising to 59% among 16 to 34-year-olds. Three in five marketers (62%) said they feared losing regular customers to online channels this year.

Despite the huge growth in online shopping accelerated by the pandemic, half of all people say they plan to do this year’s seasonal shopping through a mixture of online and in-store; but even among these “hybrid shoppers”, researchers say, there has been a marked uptick in online purchasing. Last year, this same group carried out 80% of their shopping in-store, and 12% online. 

This year the ratio has switched to 55% online and 45% in-store.

The research also indicates that UK shoppers are expecting to both spend less and actually visit stores fewer times than previously. As financial constraints bite, just 13% of consumers say they will be spending more money this Christmas, while 41% will be trying to cut back. 

For in-store retailers, the opportunity to capture trade will narrow – the average number of Christmas shopping trips across November and December looks set to drop from four last year to just two this year. However, 26% of consumers say they’ll be likely to spend between 10 and 30% more during those less-frequent trips, with that figure rising to 41% for those aged between 25 and 34 years old.

Meanwhile, research from consultants Capgemini paints a more sanguine picture for retailers and suggests they are cautiously optimistic about trade during what they hope will be the busiest time of the year for them.

Almost a third of UK retailers say they expect an increase in sales. And in reaction to the huge growth in online shopping, some 91% of retailers have taken steps to boost their online offering.

Over half (52%) of retailers say they will be offering good old-fashioned discounts this year to attract shoppers, both on and off-line; a third (31%) say they will offer a larger range of discounted products online than usual.

Even so, retailers, like marketers in the BlueVenn research, are far from confident they can accurately predict sales patterns this year – 46% said they were confident in their predictions last year; this year that figure has plunged to 26%.

Sourced from BlueVenn, Capgemini