I’m a huge fan of Christmas (my tree’s up bang on December 1st every year, without fail), because as Andy Williams sings, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’: The festive, brightly coloured lights twinkling in perpetually dark skies, the allure of all things mulled and of course, quality time with your nearest and dearest.

However, with the effects of Covid-19 likely to be with us for some time to come, and set against a backdrop of this year’s difficult economic conditions, many are wondering how the virus will impact the traditional Christmas season.

While it’s difficult to forecast the employment, social and economic conditions, we wanted to understand how and if the coronavirus might affect how people plan to celebrate.

To generate a comprehensive view of how the general population are feeling, we turned to our nationally representative consumer research panel, @ The Local. We surveyed our members about how they’re planning to spend Christmas 2020 – using the current climate’s conditions as our benchmark.

Whether it’s increased generosity in present spending or more out of home revelry during the festive season, post-lockdown consumers are planning on a very merry Christmas.

Step into Christmas
After a turbulent year where normality was essentially suspended, we wondered if people still planned to celebrate Christmas and our members sounded a resounding yes when it comes to getting into the spirit: 89% of those surveyed plan on celebrating Christmas this year, a 10% increase on 2019.

Driving home for Christmas
After spending so long disconnected and separated from our loved ones, Christmas 2020 promises to be a festively huge affair, with 40% saying they intend to spend more time with their family and friends. This increases to 56% among those aged between 18-34.

‘tis the season for giving With more people planning to celebrate the holiday season this year, we found a natural correlation in projected increased gift spends, with a 26% jump in those buying presents this year compared to 2019.

And despite economic hardships, people across the board are feeling extremely generous in 2020, with 40% of respondents saying they intend to spend between £250 – £1000. In fact, overall, the survey revealed that 74% of our members will be spending just as much, or more, on their usual spends compared to previous years.

Don’t fir-get the high street
We found that the majority of our members (31%) expect to do the bulk of their Christmas shopping between September and October. 25% plan on buying during November and a brave 12% are intending on some panic buying in the first two weeks of December. Interestingly just 9% plan on shopping during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales extravaganzas, but this rises to 1 in 5 among those most exposed to OOH advertising.

The survey also revealed that both in-store and online should benefit from the increase in shoppers in-market: Focusing on bricks and mortar stores, 63% will shop on the traditional high-street, while 54% will be going to larger shopping centres like Westfield or Manchester Arndale. This accounts for a 10% increase in consumers shopping in-store compared to previous years.

Treat yo ‘elf
After a tough year, consumers will be looking for a little well-deserved indulgence this Christmas.

87% are planning on upping the gastronomic ante by treating themselves to a delicious smorgasbord of food and drinks, with 1 in 5 spending between £250 and £1500 on their grocery shopping. This jumps to 1 in 3 among ABC1s, and 40% of those most exposed to OOH ads – great news for supermarkets and FMCG brands.

We clearly missed our freedom and being socialable during lockdown: 1 in 4 say they plan to go out even more during the Christmas season, with 78% intending on spending just as much or more than usual on going out to parties and events. This increases to a massive 92% among 18-34 year olds.

Last but absolutely not least, we asked our members what their favourite shops or shopping centres were for all their Christmas shopping essentials: Unsurprisingly, with the most-anticipated seasonal advert and undeniably great products, John Lewis sleighs it, coming top of the list. Intu centres, Debenhams, Westfield and Harrods respectively all feature in the top five – demonstrating people’s desire and willingness to spend for the best in terms of presents and groceries.

Rocking around the Christmas tree?
Though clearly dependant on the prevailing conditions at the time, but should we still be enjoying our freedom (albeit behind Santa-themed masks), Christmas 2020 really could be the biggest, most festive seasonal event yet, with people using the holiday as the perfect antidote to the Covid-19 hardships. Christmas really does make everything better.

If current conditions stay relatively the same, our data tells us that people will use the celebratory platform Christmas delivers to reconnect with family and friends, channelling their enthusiasm into celebratory events, outdoor revelling and Christmas shopping.

To see the full results, please get in touch (emma.jeffers@oceanoutdoor.com)