The five golden assumptions of Christmas 2015

Christmas is not just the time of year when we share gifts, don festive jumpers and enjoy listening to the festive hits that will never age. Christmas also represents a time of the year where the majority of us are driven by a common need, and our collective shifts in behaviour therefore become ever more evident.

During Christmas past we used to accept that shopping for gifts would mean walking into a store with the prospect of facing a human scrum. We used to accept that our food shop would involve a large trolley and Christmas sales would never start until Boxing Day. So what are the big assumptions around Christmas, and what does this mean for the future?

Assumption 1 – Christmas shopping revolves around a physical store

Consumers are shifting from physical stores to online shopping at Christmas. According to Experian and IMRG, a record breaking £3.3 billion was spent over the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday alone this year. With more consumers shopping online, retailers are increasingly using tech within their physical space to help the customer experience.


The opportunity for retail is around how to develop the physical store experience for customers around a smaller footprint, whilst also ensuring the online experience delivers the expectations that consumers have from comparing prices, to buying items, to paying/checkout and then finally receiving them.  The growth in E-commerce will also means that retailers will be able to leverage customer data to determine how people browse, interact and buy from their site, what device they use and who they are.

Assumption 2 – Christmas card sales are struggling in a digital era

With the rise in social media, sending Christmas messages online as well as ‘Elfing yourself’ you would maybe expect that physical Christmas card sales would suffer yet this is not the case. According to the Greeting Card Association, Christmas single cards show a value increase of £44m to £174.6 representing 13% of total value sales, with ARP of £1.55. This taps into the counter trend of consumers still wanting authenticity when it comes to experiences. Another example of this is in the music industry where sales of vinyl are performing strongly amid the growing trend of music streaming through brands such as Spotify and Amazon Prime.

Assumption 3 – I cannot buy anything for Christmas if I forget my wallet

I popped onto M&S this morning for some last minute shopping and did actually forget my wallet, which is quite a common trait for a Scotsman apparently! What rescued me was my ability to use my new Barclaycard Bpay key fob (developed with Market Gravity), so wearable technology means that I no longer require my wallet at all times.

The cashless payments market is growing rapidly with brands such as Apple Pay, and Google doing away with Google Wallet and replacing it with Android Pay. Zapp enables real-time payments on people’s mobile phones through integration with their existing mobile banking applications, meaning consumers can transfer money to a merchant with the swipe of a finger. In 2014, five UK banks including HSBC, First Direct, Nationwide, Santander and Metro Bank integrated the Zapp mobile payment service into their existing apps for smartphones and tablets, giving customers the ability to pay in shops and online without cash or credit cards. We will no doubt see more of this in 2016, as well as this tech broadening out into wider sectors.

Assumption 4 – Christmas dinner takes place at home

As much as I love cooking on Christmas day, the temptation of going out is always there and this is a theme which is growing. Put off by the stress of cooking, consumers are venturing out to enjoy themselves without the hassle and stress of cooking Christmas dinner. December figures from the online reservations company Open Table show that the number of restaurant reservations for December 25 has risen by 45 per cent compared to Christmas Day 2014. The data shows that of the growing numbers choosing to dine out on December 25, a quarter opted for the traditional roast Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. This also replicates figures from Kantar Worldpanel who also state that only 1 in 4 households buy Turkey for Christmas dinner.

mitchels and butlers

Assumption 5 – I am most likely to see retailer Christmas advertisements on TV

The internet is reshaping how we view advertising and this Christmas it feels more evident than ever before. I always love the Christmas advertisements from John Lewis and 2015 is no different.


In early November, John Lewis launched their ad, Man On The Moon. John Lewis actually advertised the advertisement with a 10 second teaser commercial a week before it went live, and fired up social media interest with the #ManOnTheMoon hashtag. Three hours after the advert was aired, #ManOnTheMoon was trending with 40,000 tweets.

With people spending less time watching traditional television, more viewing time is being directed towards Amazon Prime, Netflix and YouTube so advertisers have plan their marketing activity around this.

So what assumptions could you look to break in 2016? If you want to understand more around this approach, please get in touch and I promise to remember my wallet this time.


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