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Christmas Creep creates new consumer shopping patterns

Consumers will start searching for sales from mid-December

The “Christmas Creep”, or the early arrival of Christmas retail campaigns and pre-Christmas sales has created two very distinct types of Christmas shopper, according to Experian. This Christmas sees the emergence of ‘The Festive Early Bird’, who is most likely to have Christmas shopping well under way by early December and ‘The Savvy Christmas Saver’, who will still be shopping on Christmas Eve.

James Murray, Digital Insight Manager at Experian Marketing Services, commented:
“The Christmas Creep begins earlier and earlier every year with today’s consumers expecting everything about Christmas to arrive early – even the sales – and retailers are responding to this.”

By using its Hitwise competitive intelligence tool to analyse visits to the Shopping & Classifieds category online in the four weeks ending 8 December 2012 and by comparison the four weeks ending 5 January 2013, Experian has identified where each type of shopper is likely to live:

Top Towns for Festive Early Birds    Top Towns for Savvy Christmas Savers
1. Hull 1. Romford
2. Inverness 2. Coventry
3. Swansea 3. Bristol
4. Newport 4. Cambridge
5. Doncaster 5. Oxford

Festive Early Birds

Festive Early Birds tend to be older, middle aged people or fairly affluent families living in rural areas or the outer suburbs of towns and cities where their high street options are likely to be limited.  For these shoppers guaranteeing delivery of the right gifts is key and they prefer to order early in the season to avoid disappointment. Early shoppers are also time poor parents who require the convenience of online shopping and are looking to finish their shopping as quickly as possible.

Portrait of the Festive Early Bird:

  • Mid 40s to mid 60’s
  • Married
  • Parents - families with children under 15 years old
  • High income families with household incomes over £100k
  • Focus on quality when shopping
  • Likely to shop at Amazon and John Lewis.

Savvy Christmas Savers

The savvy shoppers in contrast who are leaving their shopping until the last minute tend to be younger and live in more urban areas. The group is made up of a mix of affluent urbanites and students. Less concerned with getting organised for Christmas, these shoppers are prepared to be patient to grab a bargain.

Portrait of the Savvy Christmas Saver:

  • Aged 18-25
  • Single
  • A mix of students and young professionals living in student houses or home sharing, and lower income singles
  • Many on low incomes earning less than £10,000 per year
  • Bargain hunters who look for the cheapest products.

By analysing Experian Hitwise search data from 2012, Experian predicts that 14th December 2013 will be the date that these online shoppers in particular start actively searching for “Christmas Sale” offers and expecting to receive discounts from their favourite retailers – two weeks before Boxing Day and still in plenty of time for delivery by Christmas.

James Murray commented:
“Consumers that leave their Christmas shopping right up until the last minute used to be badged as disorganised, but the new sales cycle means that in many cases, these are the savvy shoppers that stand to get the best deals on their gifts this Christmas.”

Murray concluded:
“The different spending patterns outlined here demonstrate the need for marketers to know their customers and their shopping preferences. To make the most of spending patterns in the run up to the festive season, marketers must ensure that they are reaching their customers through the appropriate channel and at the right price point.”

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