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Christmas Shopping: Not the retail norm


Consumer electronics are winners, grandparents lose out and kids splash the cash at Christmas

Shoppers across the UK are ditching their friends and family for the annual Christmas shopping trip as 66% of people prefer to do their Christmas shopping alone according to research from Hammerson*. The study by the retail destination specialists has identified how the Christmas shop has evolved amid a changing retail environment and who spends what for the festive period.

Christmas shopping habits

Hammerson surveyed more than 2,000 consumers on their Christmas shopping habits and found that the Christmas shop has become an increasingly focused expedition in which consumers research gifts in advance, allowing them to make last-minute trips to the shops.

This ‘eleventh hour’ dash is particularly prevalent in London as 39% of people in the Capital wait until the final fortnight to get their gifts.  Men are more likely than women to be late to their Christmas shopping, as 39% of men claim the short notice allows them to find greater bargains. This compares to a slightly lesser 30% of women who think the same.

19% of people enjoy researching presents before embarking on their Christmas shopping expedition and a significant amount (64%) will stop for a coffee or meal (22%) to make the experience more enjoyable.

Unsurprisingly, the worst element of the Christmas shop is the crowds as the majority (64%) of shoppers try to identify the least busy times of day.

Who tops the Christmas list?

Other halves and children are the two most bought-for groups*** for Christmas gifts. The average amount spent on a partner is £88, with Father Christmas delivering on average £188 of gifts for children. Lowest on the list of average spend are pets (£12) and colleagues (£11). However, despite spending £36 on Christmas gifts for grandparents, more people will purchase a gift for their pet or colleague over grandparents.

Children’s purchasing power is growing in prominence with just under a third of parents giving children a separate Christmas gift allowance, with Mums and Dads in Scotland (39.7%) and London (39.1%) most likely to shell out the average £45 for the allowance.

Food and drink gifts, home entertainment and fashion are the most purchased items for gifts, however consumer electronics top the list when it comes to average spend (£228). With the launch of Playstation 4 and Xbox consoles and the growing popularity of tablets they are likely to retain the top spot this year.

Demise of the January sale

Nearly a quarter of people (23%) believe that the January sale is part of the Christmas tradition however, the majority of consumers (77%) believe the great January sale has become much less important in recent years as retailers now discount during the year. Compared to the general population, people from Wales (53%) say they are most likely to find a gem in the January sales.

Although many people (41%) say they find bargains in the post-Christmas sale, more than a third (39%) believe what they find in the post-Christmas sales is a ‘waste of money’.

 Alex Petit Hammerson, Retail Analyst said:

“It’s fascinating how people alter their typical shopping habits for the Christmas shop and it looks like the British shopper has adopted a steely determination when it comes to festive gift buying. The internet has undoubtedly contributed towards this. Consumers can now be more prepared, researching online in advance allowing them to make only one or two major trips, close to Christmas.


“The impact and prominence that retailers’ have put on Christmas adverts this year well and truly puts the Christmas buying season in the front of consumers’ minds. However, the January sales have lost some of their impact as a result of more frequent discounting.”


  • 66% of people do their Christmas shopping alone, though many, notably men (44%), still prefer to shop with a spouse/partner
  • 1 in 7 (15%) of people take time off work to do their Christmas shopping
  • More people buy gifts for their pets (12%), than they do for their grandparents (9%)
  • We spend an average of £188 on children and £88 on partners.
  • A third of parents (30%) give their children a separate allowance to do their Christmas shop
  • 77% of people believe the great January sale has a less important role given retailers are frequently discounting all year round
  • 57% of people say they enjoy stores Christmas displays, more than the amount who enjoy browsing for presents (46%)




Research was conducted for Hammerson by retail research specialists, Conlumino. Conlumino polled more than 2,166 people from a UK representative sample. Fieldwork was conducted between October 28th and November 3rd 2013.

Hammerson is a retail property specialist focused on winning retail locations in the UK and France. Hammerson owns well known shopping centres notably Bullring in Birmingham, Brent Cross in North London, Oracle in Reading and Victoria Quarter in Leeds.  Hammerson is also an investor in Value Retail’s highly successful premium outlet villages, which operate in major cities throughout Europe, including Bicester Village in Oxfordshire.