With the Christmas shopping season in full swing, new research from Barclaycard has revealed that stressed shoppers are appealing to retailers to urgently enhance the shopping experience in the busy festive period or risk losing out on sales both now and in the future.
The study found that the vast majority of Brits (72 per cent) get stressed while Christmas shopping, with the figure rising to 80 per cent for women. With consumers increasingly used to comfort and convenience, however, they are no longer prepared to accept frustrations like long queues and overcrowding as simply an inescapable drawback of the season. More than six in ten people (63 per cent) say that retailers should do more to relieve shopping stresses during the festive period.
In Wales, strained Christmas shoppers cite a number of different irritations. In addition to perennial gripes about large crowds (54 per cent), long queues at checkout and fitting rooms (39 per cent) and items being out of stock (31 per cent) – which are exacerbated during the busy holiday period – other winter woes include carrying heavy bags (27 per cent), being too hot in-store (27 per cent) or having to lug their coat around (10 per cent). A third (33 per cent) also say that struggling to come up with gift ideas for those who are notoriously hard to buy for, such as in-laws and managers, adds to their festive frustrations.
Retailers in Wales who fail to act could risk losing crucial sales both now – in the weeks leading up to Christmas – and in the future. Over a third of shoppers in Wales confess to abandoning in-store (37 per cent) or online purchases (30 per cent) if they experience poor service, with nearly two thirds (62 per cent) saying they’re less likely to shop with the brand in the future if they’re stressed out at Christmas time.
With less than three weeks to go until Christmas, however, retailers in Wales still have time to make amends. Over a third of consumers in the Region (36 per cent) say extending opening hours would prove helpful, while 26 per cent think free seasonal snacks or drinks would be a ‘sweetener’. Nearly a quarter (21 per cent) of shoppers would like a free of charge cloakroom service where they can drop-off their coat and bags. 12 per cent would welcome gift ideas grouped together, for example ‘gifts for mum or mum-in-law’, and (6 per cent) would value the introduction of an in-store ‘de-stress’ area with fun distractions such as cute puppies to help offer some light relief.
Businesses in Wales that do get it right this Christmas will reap the rewards. Two thirds (66 per cent) say that if a retailer offers them a great way to relieve some of the Christmas shopping stress, they’re more likely to shop with them again.
Kath Meyers, Barclays Retail Banking Director for Wales, said:
“Christmas is a really hectic time for everyone – retailers as well as consumers. Just because it’s extra busy, though, doesn’t mean that consumers should be resigned to poor service – whether buying online or in-store. In fact, many shoppers have said that if they suffer frustrations at the hands of a brand, they may not return, having ramifications for the business’s bottom line.
“The good news for retailers is that it’s not always the costly things that consumers are calling for. Stressed shoppers have told us it’s the relatively small things like a pick-me-up in store or a cloakroom service that will make a big difference. If merchants – no matter what their size or capability – can introduce some of these measures to ‘de-stress Christmas’, it will help ensure consumers return again and again, long after the decorations have come down.”