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Christmas shopping trends for 2020: Essential shopping trumps novelty gifts

We can forget the fluffy socks and novelty presents this year. Shoppers will focus on gifting items that people need, over what they want, due to tightened budgets during the current economic uncertainty, according to new research.

Brits forecast to spend £200 billion on Black Friday and Christmas

The report also found that people are worried about the disruption Covid-19 will have on their shopping. Almost half (44%) of Brits will shun the High Street this year, planning to do more festive shopping online in 2020 than they did last year – adding to the woes of bricks and mortar stores.

New research from Blackhawk Network has found that according to a recent poll of consumers, Christmas 2020 will have a different focus. This year, the majority of us (61%), will be buying things people need not what they want for Christmas.

It also seems this Christmas, pointless gifts won’t be the order of the day as people plan to spend on average £188.94 less than last year. These findings are included in a new forecast from Blackhawk Network that identifies the 12 biggest gifting trends for the 2020 holiday season.

Each year it seems like shops bring out their Christmas stock even earlier than the year before. But, this year the likes of IMRG are actually encouraging people to start thinking about Christmas even earlier and it seems people are listening. As of the start of September, 20% of consumers had already started their Christmas shopping and a further 43% plan to start by early November. We may think it is because people are being very organised, but in fact, the biggest driver for forward planning has been people trying to budget their spending (42%).

Covid-19 a concern for festive shoppers 

Whilst Covid is likely to make us spend less overall, we are also worried about the disruption the pandemic may have on our shopping. Almost half of those planning to start shopping earlier this year (41%) cite the pandemic as a key issue that’s influenced their decision. Many consumers are planning on shunning the High Street this year with nearly half (44%) planning to do more festive shopping online in 2020 than they did last year – adding to the woes of bricks and mortar stores.

Feeling safe while Christmas shopping is likely to be a huge driver behind the expected increase in online shopping, with over three quarters (76%) of consumers claiming that they feel safe receiving online shopping deliveries, compared to just half (52%) who said they feel safe at physical retail locations.

Other key stats from the report include:

  • 68% of people are planning on buying a physical gift online, suggesting that while buying online is more popular, people still prefer to give physical gifts

  • Gift cards look to be in favour in 2020 with 21% of respondents planning on purchasing a digital gift card this Christmas, and 30% opting for physical

  • Consumers will spend 47% more on Christmas gift cards this year, with 65% of shoppers thinking that gift cards make good presents as they can be bought digitally

  • 43% of people are more likely to buy a gift card this year because of Covid-19

  • 46% of those planning to buy gift cards want to do so to give their recipient choice over what they buy

Chris Ronald, VP EMEA Incentives & Operations: “This year will be a Chritsmas like no other and gifting habits will no doubt change considerably. Festive shopping, be that in store or online, is going to be less about the glitter and the magic of previous years and more about giving gifts that offer real value. Whether that is a fluffy pair of socks to put a much needed smile on someone’s face or a gift card for something that is essential in the home, consumers are not just tightening the belt this Christmas, but also making sure that their gifts count.” 


This survey was conducted among 2001 consumers within the UK. At an overall level, results are accurate to ± 2.2% at 95% confidence limits, assuming a result of 50%. The interviews were conducted online by Sapio Research in September 2020 using an email invitation and an online survey.


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