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UK customers to boost retailers with £420 festive spend

New Christmas trading analysis from PwC has suggested UK shoppers are preparing to spend an average of £420 on Christmas presents this year.

Those in the 35-44 year age bracket are expected to shell out the most with a £522 spend, and shoppers in Scotland will have the highest average spend of £454 compared with all the UK regions.

According to respondents, one in five consumers claimed to have started their Christmas shopping earlier this year with the figure rising for under 35s in particular (over 30%). Some 20% of consumers said they did most of their Christmas shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.

Although the most popular time for buying Christmas presents is early-to-mid December, 6% of respondents, the vast majority of whom were men, say they intended to shop the week before Christmas because they had no time before then.

When asked what they’ll be prioritising when it comes to spending money this Christmas, shoppers told PwC they would be spending more on food and drink, Christmas dinner, and children’s clothing. The main categories where shoppers will spend less on presents include adult clothing and electricals and technology, which were the two most popular categories of spending in the Black Friday sales.

Kien Tan, retail strategy director at PwC, said the high street could expect to see high footfall on the weekend before Christmas as it falls on a Tuesday this year.

Sustainability was noted as an important trend among consumers which PwC said was likely to affect where consumers made purchases and how they spent their money. The professional services firm also predicted that single issue campaigns would become more prominent in advertising over the coming months.

Click and collect was also shown to be growing in popularity, with customers making use of the service not only to collect to retailers’ own stores, but also to secure lockers, manned collection points and competitor retailers. Click and collect currently accounts for one-sixth of the overall online delivery market.

Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC, said: “2018 has been full of commentary about squeezed consumer spending and its contribution to the obvious distress on the UK high street. The first half of the year in particular was very tough, with inflation rising about earnings. But, there should be some Christmas cheer for retailers as we close off 2018 – our research shows that people will be hitting the shops in earnest this Christmas time.

“Overall, spending levels will be similar to last year, but what people spend their money on may be different – it looks as though more money is being spent on the essentials – Christmas dinner, food and drink, and children’s clothing.

She added: “Alongside one-off Christmas spending, there are a number of promising signs the doom and gloom for consumers is letting up. Absolute pay is growing faster than inflation and our consumer sentiment survey found that marginally more people think they will be better off in the coming year than worse off. It’s tentative, but promising.”

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