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Christmas Comes Early in 2008

Ammon Johns

The current economic worries are causing people to start their Christmas shopping earlier this year, aiming to spread the costs. For Etailers, and all involved in the online promotion of gifts, this ultimately means that any Christmas promotions, and certainly product lines intended to appeal to the online Christmas shopper, need to already be on-line. Christmas shopping is well and truly underway by October.

The changes to Christmas shopping habits have been highlighted by a recent research study published by the IMRG.

Among their findings, the following figures really stood out:

  • 68% of shoppers said that they are more likely to shop online for Christmas presents this year.
  • 77% of shoppers planning to carry out about half or more of their Christmas shopping online (in 2007 it was 56%, so 20% more of all people now).
  • 86% of shoppers surveyed intend to use the ‘Net to research Christmas shopping options before buying in-store, (so only 3 people out of every 20 surveyed will not be influenced by online offers and product presentations this Xmas)
  • 59% stated they plan to research gift options in-store before buying online. (See the product and handle it in a shop, but go home to buy online at internet prices, or for easier delivery).
  • 58% of respondents are looking to commence their Christmas shopping earlier this year, to spread the cost, citing the economic slowdown as the main reason (Christmas campaigns need to be up already).
  • 79% of respondents satisfied with the competitive pricing available from e-retailers.
  • 80% were happy with the delivery of products by online retailers
  • 84% were pleased with the range of products available online
  • 74% are satisfied with security offered by web retailers
  • 76% are happy with the help available on websites provided by online retailers when they have a query

Look at those figures in detail. Not only did 58 percent of all those surveyed report that they intended to begin their online Christmas shopping earlier this year, to spread the costs, but a full 77 percent of all shoppers intend to carry out half or more of all their Christmas gift shopping online in 2008.

It is fascinating also to see that 86 percent of all shoppers surveyed said that they would be using the Internet to research products that they would then buy in-store. This is far from a new trend, but one really has to note that 86% is a huge majority. The high-street retailer cannot ignore that in so many cases the purchase decision has already been made long before the shopper arrives at the store, and if you didn't stock the product that they decided online was best, they aren't coming to your store at all.

To me, at least, it is even more fascinating to note that a massive 59 percent say that they intend to visit a store to see and research products that they will then buy online. This tendency has been noted in the past with interest, but I am amazed to see how prevalent this has become.

With inner-city parking becoming an ever-increasing hassle, plus the general acceptance that getting things delivered is so much easier than trying to lug them all home, online shopping is increasingly becoming a preferred shopping option - even for those visiting high-street stores, and even where the perception of keener, more competitive online prices isn't the major concern.

Indeed, customer faith and satisfaction with the delivery options from online retailers is a key point here. Faith in safe delivery for items like luxury glassware and fine crystal is obviously critical to their success with customers.

While we are mentioning range, certainly the Internet offers consumers an incredible range of products and services, from all over the world. This makes it far easier for shoppers to find and buy more interesting and better-thought-through Christmas gifts for every taste. Where else but online could shoppers so easily source gifts that satisfy their energy conscious, eco-friendly preferences?

All in all, as major high-street chains and shops have been moaning each year over recent times, the Internet has changed Christmas shopping forever. Mark my words; this year the change will be even more notable than ever. So, ask yourself, are you all ready for Christmas shopping? It has already begun.



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