Amazon still top choice for Christmas gifts despite return to in-store shopping

02/01/2015

While the tide is slowly turning in favour of in-store shopping, the majority of UK consumers are buying Christmas gifts on Amazon this year, according to new research.

Latest findings from leading online research and survey technology provider, Toluna, reveal that Amazon is still the go-to shopping channel for Christmas gifts, with almost three in five (59%) UK consumers planning to do more than a quarter of their Christmas shopping via the well-known e-commerce platform.

However, comparison with a similar study undertaken in 2012 reveals the initial novelty value of online shopping is wearing off and consumers are less excited about the benefits. This is illustrated by the decreasing popularity of price comparison sites, with only 39% of consumers planning to use them for Christmas shopping this year compared with 47% in 2012.

The findings are part of a two-part survey, which questioned a representative sample of 2,000 UK consumers in 2012 and 2014 to understand Christmas shopping trends. A similar survey was undertaken in the US.

There appears to be a gradual return to in-store shopping as the number of consumers planning to do most of their festive shopping online has decreased (35% in 2012, 33% in 2014) and the proportion of those planning to do most shopping in-store has increased (25% in 2012, 28% in 2014). This is more pronounced in the US where 34% of consumers plan to do most of their shopping in-store compared with just 24% online.

Further evidence of a fall in popularity of online shopping is a drop in the number of consumers stating that the ability to easily find the best price was their main reason for shopping online (60% in 2014, compared to 66% in 2012). Other factors that made online shopping popular – saving time and petrol, avoiding the crowds, and free shipping and returns – have also reduced in importance.

A possible shift towards more traditional gifts is indicated as the percentage of consumers planning to buy technology products this year has reduced to 42% from 47% in 2012. A slight increase in planned smartphone purchases (13% in 2012, 14% in 2014) coincides with a reduction in plans to buy cameras or camcorders (7% in 2012, 5% in 2014) presumably because high quality images and videos can now be captured on smartphones.

Apple continues to dominate the tablet gift market (17% planned to buy in 2012, 16% in 2014) while the Kindle has decreased significantly in popularity (12% in 2012, 7% in 2014). Apple has also toppled Samsung’s Galaxy from the lead position for smartphones (Galaxy 9% in 2012, 6% in 2014; iPhone 8% in 2012, 10% in 2014).

Considering online shoppers, more are planning to use their smartphone (4% in 2012, 6% in 2014) or their tablet (7% in 2012, 11% in 2014), while fewer are expecting to use desktop PCs (35% in 2012, 32% in 2014) and laptops (50% in 2012, 45% in 2014). Social media will be playing a greater role in Christmas shopping than it did two years ago with 6% getting inspiration from Twitter about what to buy, compared with 2% in 2012, and 3% finding ideas on Pinterest compared with <1% in 2012. Facebook continues to dominate this arena, with 19% of consumers (18% in 2012) making use of the platform for information when Christmas shopping.

Other notable findings from the study include:

• The total amount spent on Christmas gifts has remained relatively steady, with the largest proportion of consumers spending between £100 and £299 (41% in 2012, 38% in 2014).

• Shopping directly through a retailer’s website has decreased in popularity with 73% planning to shop on a store’s website in 2014 compared with 81% in 2012.

• Consumers are sceptical about cashless payment technology, with only 11% (consistently in 2012 and 2014) reporting they would pay in-store using their mobile phone if possible. In the US this payment option is more popular with 20% of consumers happy to pay using a mobile phone.

Methodology:

This survey was conducted in the UK in December 2014 among 2,000 adults in the UK selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Toluna surveys. Figures for age, gender, education and region were weighted to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the online population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in Toluna surveys, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. The survey was also conducted in the US.

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