What Happened To Ecommerce This Christmas?

At the start of December 2022, The Office for National Statistics said 79% of adults planned to cut back on the number of Christmas gifts and 73% said the gifts they bought would be cheaper than last year. 

No real surprise there. 

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, the World Cup, and the equally depressing onslaught of negative media, it’s no surprise that this year’s holiday retail season was a little different than normal.

Shoppers have been more intentional about their purchases and spending more time researching product options. In a study conducted by Google and Ipsos in November, 80% of holiday shoppers said they had researched or browsed before making a purchase, compared to 20% who said they had made a purchase on impulse. A far cry from our COVID fuelled online shopping days. Online ratings and reviews, along with price comparisons, are the top resources they lean on to feel confident in their large purchases ahead of advice from family and friends.

This is echoed by Cornwall-based e-commerce brands including Lincoln Miles, director at Preppers Shop UK – Europe’s leading prepping and survival store based in Newquay “We’ve found it weird with retail this year, across the board it has been much more of a slog than previous years. We’ve definitely found less of a Christmas spike online this year. Online was slower than normal years yet in-store sales have surged. Customers have been much more considerate about their purchasing this year so we’ve had a big increase in people visiting in-store to compare products and really make an informed purchase rather than just ordering on a whim.”

Research from e-commerce marketing agency Marwick Marketing & Google confirms these multi-level trends. Shoppers aren’t just using digital channels to shop online; they’re also using them to inform their in-store visits. 

Shoppers returned to brick-and-mortar shopping at nearly pre-pandemic levels, while their use of digital channels, such as searching on a smartphone (72%), watching online video (51%), and searching maps online (32%), remained at significantly higher levels that we saw in 2020.

Globally, search interest in “in-store” has nearly tripled since the beginning of the year.

Owners at 10 Over Surf Shop, a surf & lifestyle retailer that stocks brands such as Atlantic Blankets and Carver Skateboards commented “We saw an early peak in holiday sales, that we believe were driven by customers spreading the cost of Christmas over October and November. Not to mention the pre-planned Royal Mail strikes which pushed people to purchase online earlier.”

Looking ahead to 2023 e-commerce brands should be focused on ensuring they are helping consumers in their more considered approach to purchasing. Building reviews, creating more details product descriptions and videos, building trust across all marketing channels, and in general being more helpful to the end consumer.

Christian Thomson

Christian is a British-born entrepreneur and founder of Marwick. For over 19 years, Christian has successfully helped businesses excel in digital marketing. Founded in 2012, Marwick has grown from a start-up to the 11th Fastest Growing Company in Canada in 2020 and expanded into the UK in 2019.

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