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One in Three Complete Christmas Shopping Over Lockdown Increasing High Street Woes

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A third of people (33%) in the UK, around 17 million, completed all their Christmas shopping during November’s lockdown, according to new polling from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).

This figure, which is 75% higher than the same period last year, will be a major cause for concern among Welsh retailers, especially those who are reliant on sales from their bricks and mortar shops.

The survey of 2,000 adults suggests consumers felt pressure to complete their shopping earlier than usual, due to concerns that lockdowns would cause problems with the availability of the most sought-after gifts. Almost half of people (47%) admitted that the lockdown has led them to doing more of their shopping online.

With dozens of high streets across Wales already struggling due to lockdown, and the collapse of Arcadia and Debenhams likely to trigger hundreds of store closures nationwide, the higher numbers completing their shopping early will only compound the damage.

Gavin Davies, CIM Wales chair, said:

“This comes as particularly bad news for smaller and specialist retailers which will have been drowned out during the lockdown by the marketing spend of the bigger brands.

“The loss of Arcadia and Debenhams has been intensified by periods of lockdown and the onslaught of agile online retailers, but other brands can avoid the same fate by adapting to new buying habits.

“Unfortunately though, without the traditional Christmas sales boost and seven million fewer people shopping in-store this festive season, some businesses won’t recover.”

However, while the UK’s high streets face unprecedented challenges, growth opportunities do exist.

With the retail sector constantly adapting and evolving, big names such as Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group and JD Sports Fashion – both of which have already been linked with a move for Debenhams – could well look to snap up Arcadia brands and assets, while shares in M&S and Next have been attracting buyers amid expectations they could capitalise on the group’s demise.

Davies added:

“Businesses need to harness the power of digital technologies in-store and bring the best of shopping online to the high street. The high street will survive because it offers convenience and a social experience that just can’t be replicated online.”

To become a CIM member and access a range of resources to aid your marketing activities click here:https://www.cim.co.uk/membership/

Or to join CIM’s Wales community to network with fellow marketers click here: https://regions.cim.co.uk/wales/home