While it might feel like Christmas preparations start earlier and earlier every year, this dynamic has become a reality for retailers in 2021 with warnings of supply chain disruption, panic buying, and fears of festive lockdown restrictions leading to an earlier-than-ever shopping season.
That’s according to new Braze data, which reveals that nearly half (45%) of UK shoppers are planning to complete their 2021 Christmas shopping earlier than previous years, by an average of one week. Half of those shopping earlier are aiming to finish everything by December 12 and a quarter by November 30.
This early shopping is being driven by the widely publicised warnings about supply chain disruption (31%), the risk of delayed deliveries potentially keeping Christmas gifts from arriving on time (35%), and fears of new lockdown restrictions ruining celebrations (31%).
Keeping Customers Beyond Christmas
As well as seeing consumers shopping earlier, retailers can also expect a more even distribution of sales across the festive period. That’s because two-fifths (39%) of consumers plan to shop less on promotional events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday because retailers are offering more year-round savings and early sales. This could also be a result of brands’ customer retention efforts across the year, leading to a greater brand loyalty at trusted retailers.
To capitalise on this shift in consumer behaviour, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to engage with existing customers this Christmas, and to reassure customers over deliveries and supply chain, and make sure Christmas customer engagement is part of a longer-term strategy to create long-term value.
James Manderson, VP, Global Customer Success at Braze, said, “As 2020 was a disappointing Christmas for many families, it won’t be a surprise to retailers that Christmas is coming early this year. The challenge will be how to make the most of it, and there is a huge opportunity to engage existing customers. The temptation might be to increase the communications across all your channels, resulting in message ‘burnout.’ It’s important that retailers have the right tools in place to engage customers respectfully in a coordinated way with relevant offers and information on the right channels, at the right time.”
Loyalty on the Rise
This shift in shopping habits shows that the months ahead will still be critical for retailers. Braze customer data shows that consumers are staying loyal to brands they know and trust. From September 2020 to September 2021, there was a 14% decrease in new user growth across platforms, while sessions per user increased 17%, indicating that users are both browsing earlier and sticking with the brands they loved last year.
“It’s also important to think about the long-term relationship you want to build with your customer—they aren’t just for Christmas,” explained Manderson. “Retaining these loyal customers requires having the right customer engagement strategy in place that understands their changing needs and provides timely, helpful promotions or content. If you get this right, there’s an opportunity for retailers to not only retain customers after the festive season but grow them into long-term advocates for your brand.”
- Almost a third (30%) of consumers are also planning to host their family Christmas dinner before 25thDecember to avoid family gatherings being cancelled if new lockdown restrictions come into place.
- One in ten (9%) are even planning their Christmas celebrations in November