UK consumers set to spend big this Christmas

28 November 2019 3 min. read
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The UK retail sector could be thrown a life-line this Christmas, with the forecast that almost nine-in-ten consumers are expecting to spend as much or more than they did in 2018’s festive period. Many customers are also expected to forego promotional days such as Cyber Monday, spending more for the sake of avoiding the mayhem of the seasonal crowds.

The UK high street looks set to end the decade on a low note, as new research has revealed retailers are seeing their highest level of store closures in nine years. Averaging 16 closures per day, the UK saw a net loss of over 100 more stores than in the same period of 2018 alone, with worse expected to come for the sector as Brexit looms on the horizon. There is one glimmer of hope for the retail sector before the close of the year however: Christmas.

According to new research from Accenture, the Christmas trading period could deliver some much-needed festive cheer for retailers, with shoppers planning to spend more this year. The consulting firm’s research found that 87% of shoppers are anticipating an increased spend on last year’s figures. In the majority of cases, the impending election and realisation of Brexit will have no impact on this, either, with 57% saying political uncertainty will not change their plans for a holiday splurge.

UK consumers set to spend big this Christmas

This could prove something of a life-line for hundreds of struggling brands across the country. In January 2019, HMV collapsed into administration following an uncharacteristically poor Christmas trading period, which some labelled the straw that broke the camel’s back at the beleaguered entertainment retailer. As a result, this year a number of pressured retailers have already outlined December as a make-or-break Christmas trading period, as they look to turn around their fortunes and avoid a similar fate.

The poll found that the spending increase is likely to be driven by younger consumers, with 45% of younger millennials and 38% of Gen Z stating they anticipated spending more. Meanwhile, nearly half (47%) of Britons said they were planning to leave most of their shopping to the last weekend before Christmas rather than capitalise on specific promotional days – suggesting many will forego deals to spend more money – while 37% said they prefer to shop on Cyber Monday.

Commenting on the findings, Accenture UK & Ireland retail consulting lead Andrew Carlisle said, “The high street gloom doesn’t seem to have dampened shoppers’ spirits this festive season, buoyed by younger consumers planning to spend big over the holidays. What’s more is that spending for UK shoppers isn’t centred on a particular day, suggesting that the retailers that can sustain consumer interest beyond the key moments of Cyber Monday and Black Friday are set to benefit the most.”