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Top Christmas gift is money - and the most unwanted is the novelty tie as UK set to spend £518m more on Christmas 2013

Spend shifting from traditional toys to high-end technology gifts such as tablets

12 December 2013 - Britons are expected to spend £518 million more on Christmas this year, up 2.9 per cent from 2012 (£17,991 million), according to a report from global business analytics leader SAS and retail analysts Conlumino. The report also found that despite Christmas traditionally being about the giving and receiving of presents, what people really want this year is money.

Research has shown that across the board - from the young to the old – people want to be counting their money like Ebenezer Scrooge this Christmas. But far from being a case of 'bah! humbug!' Britons admit that money is welcomed as this year's most wanted gift. This will provide retailers with a great opportunity to capitalise on sales after Christmas.

Hot on its heels are consumer electrical gifts such as tablets and smartphones, with home entertainment products including DVDs and CDs continuing to lose out. This trend is reflected in the toys category with a significant shift away from traditional toys and games towards high-tech devices - laptops, tablets and smartphones feature among the top 10 most wanted gifts. In fact, the findings show that people not only want to receive high-tech presents, but also heavily rely on technology to research, buy and order presents for their family and friends.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the SAS and Columino report entitled Christmas 2013: Market Prospects, Trends and Winning Strategies found that the most dreaded presents include cuddly toys, DIY tools, novelty ties and, for women, an Xbox or PlayStation. Britons are also not keen on receiving gifts aimed at improving their health and appearance with anti-aging products, dietary products and exercise equipment among the least wanted gifts.

Seasonal food and drink is set to be a winner over the festive period with sales expected to rise by 4.2 per cent to £5.3 billion. While premium players such as Waitrose and Marks & Spencer are set for a typically strong Christmas, offering ready-cooked catering services for delivery on Christmas Day, they face intensifying competition from discount grocers. While previously focusing on price-strapped food shoppers, discount grocers including Aldi and Lidl have both boosted their premium ranges, backed up for the first time with large-scale rival Christmas advertising campaigns.

Across all segments, retailers are competing for innovation. This year's Christmas campaigns are bigger and more multi-channel than ever, spanning large scale TV ads, social media and personalised email marketing – with John Lewis cited in the media as this year's top retailer for promoting Christmas.

Neil Saunders, managing director, Conlumino, said: "Retailers are clearly aware that they need to connect with shoppers in new and convenient ways – yet consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and demanding. With peoples' inboxes likely to be flooded with promotional material in the weeks coming up to Christmas, retailers that add a personalised touch to the process will have a clear advantage.

"We are seeing shoppers of all ages take to technology for their Christmas purchases. Services like Pinterest are already being used for virtual Christmas wish lists, offering a unique opportunity for consumers to connect with retailers and make their preferences known. Equally, retailers will increasingly bring the technologies already used online into stores, offering free Wi-Fi and mobile apps to make it easier to navigate, compare and order products."

Cindy Etsell, retail marketing manager, SAS UK & Ireland, commented: "With our report showing that money is the top gift, retailers need to be savvy enough to tap into the vast numbers of consumers who received gift vouchers and who have cash at Christmas. They need to provide personalised offers through multiple channels such as social media, email and direct mail vouchers. Analytics can shed light on what that cash is likely to be spent on – and show retailers where to develop multi-channel promotions that will capitalise on the extra money available.

"In addition, it's essential not to overlook the importance of forecasting and understanding demand across different products. By combining data on past behaviours, weather forecasts, planned promotions and extended shopping hours, savvy retailers can use predictive analytics to give them the power to know."

METHODOLOGY

The report findings were drawn from two waves of research, one undertaken in January 2013 and the other over November/December 2013. A total of 1,570 respondents were interviewed in the first wave and 2,008 in the second, both samples being representative of the population in terms of demographics and geography.

About SAS

SAS is the leader in business analytics software and services, and the largest independent vendor in the business intelligence market. Through innovative solutions, SAS helps customers at more than 65,000 sites improve performance and deliver value by making better decisions faster. Since 1976 SAS has been giving customers around the world The Power to Know® .

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