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81% of UK consumers agree Christmas will take a different meaning this year

Christmas different meaningAs a result of the pandemic, 81% of UK consumers agree Christmas will take on a different meaning for them this year according to research by Virgin Experience Days, the UK’s leading provider of gift experiences.

Almost half (48%) of consumers will recognise this by making family a greater focus and 40% plan to make up for time spent apart, making this Christmas extra special having a different meaning to other years. A further 45% believe there’s a need to spread joy and to show people they care, highlighting how thoughtful gifting and togetherness will become key themes for consumers at the end of a tough year.

The survey of 2,750 respondents subsequently found that the majority (81%) of UK consumers are planning to spend the same amount or more on Christmas presents this year compared to previous years – including more than a fifth (22%) who plan to increase spend on gifts.

This comes despite a gloomy economic outlook, leading over two thirds of UK consumers (69%) to share their expectation that others will spend less on gifts for them this Christmas.

With UK consumers’ willingness to spend on Christmas presents largely undeterred, Virgin Experience Days shares some inspiration for Christmas gift ideas with confirmation that ‘Days Out & Tours’ are the most popular product category this year, accounting for one in five sales (20%).

‘Food & Drink’ experiences are the second most popular (16%), followed by ‘Driving’ and ‘Adventure’ as the joint third most popular product categories (10.4%).

Overall adrenaline-fuelled experiences saw a surge in popularity with driving experiences rising from 8.2% of sales last year and flying experiences increasing in popularity from 3.2% of sales in 2019 to 4.6% in 2020, as UK consumers sought escapism from lockdown restrictions.

‘Short Breaks’ also grew in popularity year-on-year from 3.5% to 4.6%, as UK consumers swapped holidays abroad for staycations. And pampering was also a priority, with sales in the ‘Spa & Beauty’ category rising from 8.7% to 9.9%.

And the ‘At Home & Tangibles’ product range also saw a significant increase in uptake as consumers showed willingness to try digital experiences during the pandemic, rising from 0.8% to 4.3% year-on-year.

The trending product categories may come as useful inspiration for colleagues and in-laws who were voted the worst gift givers by 29% and 18% of UK consumers respectively, and may help when buying presents for fathers and husbands who were voted the most difficult people to gift by 17% and 16% of those surveyed.

Over three quarters (78%) have sadly received presents they’ve never used before, with some of the more unusual gifts received including an ironing board, regifted bowls, a used candlestick, an opened box of chocolates and a fold away shovel.

Richard Hurd-Wood, CEO of Virgin Experience Days, comments:

Christmas 2020 will be a Christmas like no other for many reasons but UK consumers are set to continue gifting and in some cases more generously than in previous years! Despite the financial difficulties many are facing, UK consumers seem willing to defy the odds and maintain or increase their spend this year including 22% who intend to gift people who have helped them. This is also great news for the many businesses big and small up the country who rely on Christmas for trade.

“Throughout the year, we have seen consumers’ eagerness to shop again and enjoy the nation’s wonderful hospitality, leisure and retail sectors following the loosening of social restrictions earlier in the summer. Despite a return to lockdown, our suppliers across all these industries continue to enjoy strong sales during key gifting periods with many understanding the growing importance of e-commerce.

“This gives hope that although Christmas 2020 may have a different meaning this year, and consumer priorities may be changing due to the ongoing uncertainty, people still intend to celebrate and show they care with thoughtful gifts.”