Myth #12: You’re either an online-er or an offline-er, right?

And so we’ve arrived at our final, 12th Christmas Myth and this one is around online and offline shopping for Christmas gifts.  I think we’ve probably all heard people boasting that they did all of their Christmas shopping online, not once entering a shop or, at the other end of the scale, someone who wouldn’t dream of buying your Christmas present online, preferring to peruse the stores endlessly until they found you the perfect gift.

I love going to different stores and find the best deals and the best presents. Also the shop displays are invaluable on what I might choose and the ease of looking at the different products.

All of this might lead us to believe that Christmas shopping should show similar patterns across all categories for people – you’re either an online-er or an offline-er, right?

However, in our Future of Christmas research, what we actually found was a different picture with a massive 80% of us being hybrid shoppers, using both online and offline for our Christmas shopping.   And more than this, it would seem that our shopping habits vary hugely according to the category (and probably the person!) we’re shopping for.  For example, books, CDs and DVDs are more likely to be an online purchases, with 70% of us buying our entertainment gifts online.  However, when it comes to toys we see a real mixture of online and offline purchases, with the proportion of those purchasing online peaking at just 49%.  Jewellery is at the opposite end of the spectrum to entertainment, with nearly three quarters of us opting to buy our sparkling gifts in store.  So it would seem that the purely online shoppers or purely offline shoppers are few and far between.

Myth 12

It’s also true that the closer we get to Christmas and the more panic sets in about getting the right present, the more likely we are to shop in-store rather than online.  For all categories, including entertainment, we see an increase of in-store purchasing for even those categories that were predominantly online purchases earlier on in the process.  Experian found that, in 2014, the highest footfall of the Christmas season was on December 22nd, reflecting this reliance on in-store the closer we get to the big day.

Overall, there is a real mix of shopping behaviours across category.  Brands and retailers should take note of these trends and tailor their communications accordingly, ensuring seamless links between bricks and mortar and online to enable shoppers to easily navigate between the two.  And as the proportion of fast and free delivery services increases this year – Argos is currently advertising it’s same day delivery covering over 90% of the population – it will be fascinating to see how the online and offline worlds continue to merge for shoppers this year.

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Sarah Gale

Sarah has worked in research and insight for nearly 20 years and it really shows. She likes nothing more than trying to come up with new and interesting ways to provide insight into how we live our lives today. Sarah loves a challenge, is hugely tenacious and once won the MRS ‘Talent Magnet’ for young researchers. She hopes to now win the same award for old researchers.

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