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Online Shoppers Bring Holiday Cheer To European Retailers

This article is part of CMO.com’s November series about commerce and consumerism. Click here for more.

For many European consumers, online shopping will play a key part in their purchases throughout the upcoming festive season, according to the latest “Holiday Retail” report from Adobe Digital Insights (ADI), released Monday (Adobe is CMO.com’s parent company).

Festive Spend Bucks The Trend
Although retail sales across Europe have been mixed in 2017, consumer spending is expected to grow this holiday season—with 20% of German consumers and 13% of U.K. shoppers planning to increase their outlay on gifts, decorations, and food this Christmas and New Year compared to 2016, while French consumers expect to at least match their spend from last year.

It seems that the British will be big on giving this time of year, with an average planned spend of £1,963 (€2,216) that includes everything, from presents for friends and family through to donations to charity. U.K. consumers eclipse the amounts spent by their German and French counterparts, with €565 and €498, respectively.

The spending has already started in the U.K., with over a third of shoppers having bought at least some of their presents before the first of November. However, for most German and French consumers, the holiday shopping season doesn’t start in earnest until the turn of November.

British shoppers also plan to keep shopping to the very last minute, even though they claim to being efficient when it comes to getting all their Christmas shopping done. Forty-four percent of U.K. consumers will still be looking to buy those extra special gifts well after Dec. 15, compared with only 38% of French and 36% of Germans. The British also believe that they’re more efficient at doing their shopping over the festive season than their European contemporaries, even though they spend more time doing it.

Online Shopping Is On The Rise
The U.K. has one of the most developed e-commerce markets in the world, so it’s no surprise that online holiday shopping this year will be big for U.K. consumers, with 21% expected to shop online. However, both German and French consumers are catching up in terms of their enthusiasm for online retail (both 18%).

Online is also becoming a key shopping destination for their festive shopping with almost half of British (47%), German (45%), and French (42%) consumers, who say that shopping online would be the perfect way to do all their holiday shopping this year.

It seems that the main motivation for buying presents online is the ease of use. For U.K. shoppers, great deals, easy availability, and free shipping are a big driver to go online. For French and German shoppers, on the other hand, it’s the allure of not having to stand in long queues in a store, but lower prices and the breadth of products available to buy online are enticing them too. The lack of stress from not shopping in busy retail stores in the holiday season was also a driver for some consumers who find the hustle and bustle all too much.

It has recently been reported that, for the first time ever, some 12% of retail spaces in the U.K. currently stand vacant. So it’s no surprise that nearly two-thirds of respondents in each country reported that the closing of physical stores is having an impact on their holiday shopping experience this year. Of those affected, approximately a third of consumers in each country reported moving to more online shopping as a result. However, there also seems to be a growing trend to support local retailers, with 29% of German consumers keen to back their neighbourhood stores.

CX Enhances The Holiday Shopping Experience
The online customer experience is becoming more and more important, and, although we are turning increasingly to our smartphones for help or to make purchases, for many of us the experience is still a frustrating one.

U.K. consumers find reviews the most helpful when shopping online and are more likely to use retail apps that allow them to buy from their smartphones compared to the French and German contemporaries. British consumers also welcome emails that alert them to the best deals available at their favourite stores, while German and French shoppers still prefer to hear about the best offers via conversations with their friends and family.

Social media is an underutilised tool when it comes to the festive season, with only a small percentage of European consumers turning to the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest for inspiration and new ideas.

Although mobile is increasingly the device of choice for going online, the majority of consumers are still frustrated that retail mobile experience hasn’t significantly improved in the past 12 months. In the U.K., France, and Germany, more than 70% of shoppers find that online shopping using a mobile device is as easy as it was last year, but not appreciably better.

Consumers’ biggest demands from m-commerce are the ability to get to best deals fast, followed by speed and convenience. Shoppers in the U.K. (23%), Germany (22%), and France (18%) will turn to retail apps to make purchases over the Christmas period.

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