The what, why, where and how of shopping intentions this Christmas

Written by Stable Research

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday kicking off the Christmas shopping surge and delivering record online sales, Stable Research surveyed our Soapbox panel on both online and bricks and mortar gift buying plans in 2019. This article builds on our findings about the ethical considerations driving Christmas purchasing decisions.

For this second of our two-part insight into Australia’s Christmas Shopping Habits, we asked men and women aged 18 to 85+ from across Australia on our panel to indicate the factors governing their intended Christmas gift spend, including their timing and preferred shopping methods. We also asked them to reveal more personal policies including gifting ‘experiences’ over goods, whether to shop for yourself, and attitudes to those Boxing Day Sales.

Our study results highlighted the following findings:

Early December is the most popular time to shop

Overall, the most popular time to shop was early December with 27% of respondents indicating they would be shopping then, followed by mid-December at 20% and the days before Christmas at 19%. A very small proportion said they would be shopping on Xmas Eve or during the Boxing Day sales. Only 5% of our respondents were earlybirds who shopped from July to October, and 12% did so during November. 

Brick and mortar shopping centres remain popular

Overall, bricks and mortar shopping centres are still the most popular way to buy Christmas gifts at 63%, with buying online the next most popular way to shop at 23%. Around 5% indicated they will buy primarily through local business. 

Looking at the age group bands, 40% of the 22 – 29 years old group said they will primarily shop online. The 66 – 85+ age group were most in favour of physically making Xmas purchases at shopping centres at 70% – and this is despite the probability these customers are more likely to experience mobility issues than other age groups.

Online research and catalogues help decision making

An overwhelming 95% of respondents conducted some form of research before they made a purchase and 21% said they did a “great deal” of research.

Online research of specific stores was popular at 58%, as were online reviews at 53%. Catalogues were also up there in popular methods at 50%, suggesting that print still has influence. Social media lagged at 27%, with research via friends sitting at 28%.

Customers in the younger age brackets (below 49 years of age) were keenest amongst the enthusiastic researchers.

Gift cards and experiences as popular as physical goods

Overall, 88% said they would incorporate some kind of non-physical gift in their Christmas spend, while 44% said they would spend as much or more on experiential gifts compared to physical goods.    

Older age groups were more resistant when it came to purchasing experiences as gifts. Approximately 16% of 60 to 85 year olds said they would only purchase physical goods in comparison to 7% of 22 to 39 year olds.

The department store Boxing Day sales

Only 4% of shoppers declared outright that were “against” the boxing day sales, but the most common response overall was “I don’t shop on Boxing Day” at 39%. The 66 to 85+ year olds were most likely at 60% to have a ‘Boxing Day no-shop’ policy.

Shop for yourself – Naughty or nice or just multitasking?

Overall, 59% of respondents put their hand up and confessed to purchasing items for themselves when Christmas shopping.   70% of the 22 – 29 age group said they shopped for themselves, compared to 51% of the 60 – 65 group and 41% of the group aged 66 – 85+. Women were more inclined to buy something for themselves at 64% compared to men at 53%.

When asked to give reasons for their self-shop: 57% responded to “There is always something on sale”; 42% wanted to “reward” themselves; and 15% indicated they were time-poor stating they had “no other time”. 

The Survey results show that older age groups are more likely to use traditional methods and are favouring physical shopping while avoiding Boxing Day shopping. However, shoppers in all age groups were open to different approaches when buying Christmas gifts – buying online, researching background information via print catalogues, or taking the opportunity to purchase experiences over goods.

Seen through the eyes of consumers, the Christmas gift spend is a considered project that benefits from research and imagination. The what, why, where and how of purchases reflect different priorities such as the time, financial and physical resources of the customer, as well as their own ethical views.

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