The Golden Retail Season. Chapter 2: The State of Shopping Habits

Amazon continues to be the unparalleled titleholder when it comes to online shopping. 50% of shoppers place them in their top three chosen retailers to buy Christmas from this winter, with Argos (2nd) and Tesco (3rd) also on the podium.

The gulf between Amazon and the rest may have fallen from the 63% who said they spent with the online giant last Christmas, but nonetheless the gap between them and the rest remains substantial, with Argos set to receive business from around 20% of festive purchases.

It’s ambiguously indicated that if Amazon receives less of the public's predicted spending, then shoppers will be looking around more intently than last time out; retailers must be on the top of their game to capture consumer attention.

A not so surprising second place goes to the innovative Argos, a long-standing favourite who is reaping the rewards of notable efforts into digital investment, and delivery particularly. Argos has approached digital in-store service head on, with in-store tablets and kiosks now creating a more fluid user experience. A large push has also been exerted into the multichannel access of Argos produce, and the retailer is receiving great praise for its commitment to click-and-collect, and the use of large stores as mini warehouses, able to distribute to smaller stores using real-time stock management technology.

A word on supermarkets

In the supermarket sector, despite an uncertain year, it’s Tesco that surface in the strongest position. Ahead of this Christmas period, Tesco has flown ahead of its counterparts, placing 3rd of all retailers forecasted to receive the greatest shares of consumer budget. This solidifies Tesco's popularity for non-food market offerings, such as home and electronic options. Asda, who placed third last year overall, has plummeted down to seventh, and the widely spoken of Aldi and Lidl are outside the top 10; unsurprising when you consider that these retailers are not present buying venues.

What influences these results?

Amazon has been able to provide a seamless user experience; with easy to find products, quick payment transactions, efficient fulfilment services, and what sometimes feels like an infinite product range. It’s clear to see how it has risen into such a retail superpower.

Others can learn from Amazon’s model; real time delivery, recommended purchases and personalised emails are further examples of how Amazon has embraced technological developments.

When it comes to influencing the shopping habits of festive purchasers online, two main criteria lead the way; discount and quality. A retailer that satisfies buyers in these areas puts themselves in good stead for prosperous Christmas results. According to The IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index, the weeks between November 2nd and December 27th see the nation spend £21.6bn online.

In-store is a slightly different story. Here, product quality surpasses discounts, evidencing that range quality and range extensiveness means more when the shopping experience is tangible. However, discounts do come in at a close second. The explosion of Black Friday is seemingly not a fad, but with us for good.

When will shoppers shop?

The goldmine period, when seasonal retailers must ensure they’re geared up at least one month before Christmas, a third of all festive shopping budget is spent in this window. An astonishing 17% is taken by Black Friday, while an organised 25% of shoppers plan to secure their gifts two months ahead of the big day itself. 

Throughout recent years, planning for the Christmas period has altered dramatically. Trading cycles have extended further in advance of Christmas Day, and more people are planning ahead to avoid being part of the 5% who face a final week of flurried purchasing chaos.

Chapter 3 in our Christmas Retail Blog Series tackles the consumer experience. For this and all other current parts, click here.

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