Christmas shopping sends brands into a frenzy each year as they compete for attention and consumers’ wallets, and it’s showing no signs of slowing. This year, Selfridges’ Christmas shop opened in August and Christmas ads creep onto our screens earlier each year. But how does the way people shop differ in the festive period, and what attracts consumers to a brand? We wanted to unpick The Christmas Shopper phenomenon.

  1. Christmas shopping; a competitive sport 

Despite consumers becoming more discerning and inflation increasing, Brits are determined to find the best presents for their loved ones. They want gifts to be impressive, unexpected and different; almost three quarters of people in the UK want their gifts to be a surprise, 45% want to give the best present someone gets and 54% want to gift something unique. Despite the pressure to find these unusual, exciting gifts, many people (43%) still find Christmas shopping enjoyable.

  1. One for you, one for me

Many of us are familiar finishing up our festive shopping with a surprising number of presents for ourselves, with 42% of Brits admitting to this and as early as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, people are already buying just as many gifts for themselves as for others. Only 29% of people planned to buy for themselves in advance, with most of us spontaneously indulging ourselves while out shopping for others. Women are among the most guilty, being 44% more likely than men to buy themselves presents including homeware and clothes.

  1. Men still leave the shopping to their partners

Our research also highlighted gender differences with twice as many men (28%) leaving present buying until just two weeks before Christmas and almost the same amount (26%) spending less time thinking about what to buy. This could be because men typically buy for fewer people than women (on average 7 vs. 10 people), and 51% of men know the exact gift or category they’re hunting for (vs. 43% of women).

  1. High demands for a festive wardrobe

Clothing was the most popular Christmas present last year, with 53% spending in this category at an average of £122.65 per person.  For mums, dads, husbands, wives and partners, it’s the most popular type of gift and it’s also probably going to be the biggest. In addition, it’s the most likely treat people will sneak into the basket for themselves, showing how versatile this type of present is.

  1. Wives get the best deal 

Aside from children, wives are the most likely to be bought large gifts at Christmas (rather than a medium, small, or stocking filler sized gift), with 53% of gifters saying they would splash out on their significant other, which hasn’t changed since last year. They also got the highest priced gift, with people spending on average £406 on the biggest gift for their wives.


This paints an interesting picture of the different opportunities for marketers at a vibrant but highly saturated time of year. Even though people spend more and enjoy doing so, marketers should make sure they capitalise on the different mindset of consumers at this time, and tailor their messaging accordingly.

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