A new Aptos report has delivered much-needed good news for the UK retail sector as it heads into the peak trading season of the year – especially after the challenging year we’ve had.
The Golden Quarter 2020: Christmas Is Coming, Come What May report revealed that retail stores have not lost their Christmas sparkle. Aptos surveyed 2000 shoppers in the UK and asked questions about spending habits, bagging bargains, sale days, and preferred ways to shop – what will get them back through the door and what will keep them away.
The survey effectively uncovers what consumers really want and how they plan to shop in this golden quarter. However, this year’s golden quarter will be unlike any other, as different parts of the UK experience a variety of pandemic-related lockdowns and associated restrictions, including the temporary closure of brick-and-mortar stores selling non-essential goods – with Northern Ireland parts of Scotland in lockdown, and England slated to lift its month-long lockdown from December 2.
Nevertheless, the news from Aptos’ recent research is generally positive: despite the pandemic, people are still keen to shop. Most shoppers intend to spend the same as, or more than, last year. And, in common with previous golden quarters, the majority will be looking to bag a bargain.
Pandemic-driven uncertainty means that some people will have started their Christmas shopping earlier than usual, and that others will buy gifts without waiting for sale days.
Where non-essential retailers’ brick-and-mortar stores are open or can re-open, consumers’ willingness to visit will hinge on the presence of adequate social distancing and hygiene measures. In addition, digital influence cannot be ignored – especially as online retail sales continues to climb thanks to the dramatic increase in shoppers turning to online retail amid lockdowns and months of working from home.
Importantly, Aptos said reduced expenditure over the course of the year on commuting, going out or going on holiday means that just over a quarter of consumers have more money to spend this golden quarter. Almost as many say they intend to spend more on gifts for family and friends this Christmas.
Ultimately, retailers can take comfort in the fact that most people want to shop during this golden quarter. Around half of consumers will spend the same as last year, and some will spend more — whether on general shopping, gifts or sale day shopping.
There is much more insight and date to be found in Aptos’ 2020 edition of its annual golden quarter report. The overarching theme is that for UK retailers, there is a message that cannot be ignored: the store experience remains highly relevant in the most important shopping season of the year – regardless of the pandemic.