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Published December 20th 2019

Unwrapped: Christmas Shopping Habits 2019

Our mobile survey around Christmas shopping reveals the vast array of approaches to gift buying

There are so many different ways to navigate the gift buying process. Deciding what to buy, how much to spend, and when to purchase can vary dramatically from person to person.

Wanting to learn more about this, we turned to Brandwatch Qriously.

Qriously can collect real-time survey data from billions of people across the globe, and using these incredible capabilities we were able to discover more about consumer behavior when it comes to Christmas shopping habits.

Here’s what we learned.

1. The older you are, the more organized you become

It’s the same every year. The kids start going back to school after summer, we eat far too much candy on Halloween, and then, overnight, it hits us…

Advent calendars adorn the shelves of stores, festive emails come flooding into our inboxes, and we’re all exposed to the cheery vocals of Mariah Carey in shopping malls up and down the country.

Christmas is here. And somehow, it always manages to creep up on us.

We asked consumers when they normally buy their Christmas presents and, perhaps unsurprisingly, younger respondents were significantly more likely to buy Christmas presents at the last minute, with 28% of them saying that they would buy gifts as late as the week before Christmas.

The most organized amongst us? Yep, you guessed it. Those aged 55 and over were most likely to purchase gifts in advance, with 57% of respondents purchasing presents at least one month before the event.

This suggests that the older you are, the more likely you are to plan your Christmas shopping well ahead of the festivities.

2. Men are more likely to leave shopping until the last minute.

We know, we know. It’s an age old stereotype. But according to the Qriously results, we found that men really are more likely to leave Christmas shopping to the last minute in comparison to women.

This, combined with point one on our list, means that if you’re expecting a gift this year from your 19-year-old brother, you may still have time to drop hints!

3. The decline of the high street continues

While younger people may be leaving their Christmas shopping until the last minute, they are taking full advantage of the efficiency and speed of ordering online to do so.

34% of 18-34 year old respondents said that they would be purchasing their Christmas presents from Amazon this year, with a further 36% purchasing from elsewhere online. If this trend continues to go upward, the high street could see more trouble in the years to come.

4. Big spenders shop at Amazon.

Interestingly, Amazon also proved to be highly popular with those shoppers who were planning on spending larger amounts this Christmas.

Those spending $335 or more were 7% more likely to use Amazon than those spending under $335.

There are a couple of things this could mean. First, shoppers are trusting Amazon to deliver on big ticket items. It may also imply that those with lots of people to buy for are taking full advantage of Amazon’s wide variety of gift options which suit almost every taste.

5. Most people just tell their loved ones what to buy them.

We’ve all been there. Your sister has everything that she could possibly ever need… so what do you buy her?

With the ever-increasing choices that we have, gift inspiration comes from a variety of different places. From TV ads, to social media and beyond, during the Christmas build up, we are surrounded by gift inspo and festive advertising – so how do we decide what to buy?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, young people are once again taking to the web with 37% of 18-34 year olds saying that they get their Christmas present ideas from online ads and research.

Research seems like a pretty safe way to find the right gift, but there is always the concern that the recipient of your present won’t like it. This is perhaps why over half of the people surveyed admitted that they are told what to purchase by the person that they are buying for.

Where do you get your ideas for Christmas presents?

Source of ideas % of respondents who selected this
I'm told what to buy by the person I'm buying for 53.9%
Other 39.2%
Recommendations from friends or family etc 33.3%
Online research 17.8%
TV/Radio ads 8.7%
Social media / influencers 6.2%
Source: Qriously, 2019

6. Vouchers are the most popular Christmas present

Similarly to just straight up asking people what they would like for Christmas, lots of shoppers are putting the choice back into the hands of the recipient when it comes to the actual Christmas gift. We found that 52% of our respondents purchase gift cards and vouchers for their loved ones.

Interestingly, this figure increases when the shopper has been influenced by some form of advertising with 68% of the people that were inspired by social media and influencers purchasing gift cards this year. This figure rises yet again to 69% for those shoppers who were influenced by TV and radio ads.

This suggests that Christmas advertising is getting people excited about specific brands or retailers but, for some reason, the decision of what exactly to purchase is still a daunting one for many. You might expect a big stack of presents under the tree this year, but it could just be a flurry of envelopes containing gift vouchers.

7. Spending at Christmas is here to stay!

As we navigate this digital age by purchasing gifts online and seeking inspiration from social media and influencers, it’s apparent that Christmas shopping is still an important part of our larger festive culture. What’s more, consumers are seemingly still prepared to continue spending hundreds in order to fulfill this part of Christmas tradition.

  • We found that 43% of people usually spend between $57 and $222 in total on their Christmas gift shopping.
  • Older people were significantly more likely to spend larger amounts, with 17% of respondents aged 55 and over spending upwards of $557!
  • Only 1% of the people surveyed said that they wouldn’t be spending anything on Christmas presents this year, and with respondents purchasing across categories including toys, clothing, and jewellery, the demand for goods at this time of year doesn’t appear to be slowing.

With the current decline of the high street, it will be interesting to see how shopping habits change in the future, as the younger shoppers from our survey get older and online shopping becomes more mature.

One thing’s for sure: Whether we’re spending $50 or $500, purchasing three months in advance or on Christmas Eve, the element of giving and receiving is certainly a big part of Christmas that is here to stay. Luckily for retailers, there’s never been a better time to learn about what it is consumers really want.

Methodology notes:

Our Qriously survey was completed by 1,945 people across Germany.

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