Thoughts on Christmas Shopping

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Christmas adverts are on the air, decorations are being put up, Christmas Markets are now filling your weekend plans and festive jingles are playing in the background in most shops. While this is the time for cosy nights in front of the fire, it is also the time for stressful Christmas shopping. As a mystery shopping company, Retail Maxim always helps retailers gain important insight on shoppers’ experiences. This is why we have asked a randomly selected panel a few questions on the subject of Christmas shopping and advertising, here are our findings:

Christmas shopping
Festive feeling

For many, the launch of big brand Christmas adverts marks the beginning of the festive season. However, what is the real impact TV adverts have on customers’ buying experience around the months of November and December? While some people anxiously wait for the Christmas adverts, their love for the tradition is not necessarily correlated to their buying experience. We asked you if big Christmas adverts encouraged you to shop with them. We received a huge response with 1189 people participating in the poll. Here are your responses:

  • 51.22% Not at all
  • 40.62% No, but they make me feel festive and good about their brand
  • 8.16% Yes, they encourage me to actually shop with them for Christmas items

The results of this poll clearly show a surprisingly low percentage of people being consciously encouraged to shop with a brand on the basis of their Christmas adverts. While the majority of those interviewed replied they are not at all influenced by adverts in their buying experience, the runner-up shows many people love Christmas adverts as they make them feel festive and good about their brand. The results mean that while there is no direct link between Christmas adverts and sales, the campaigns are positive for retailers as means of brand awareness.


Many people start celebrating Christmas as soon as Halloween is over, others will not be caught humming Jingle Bells until Christmas Eve (if ever). Timing is really hard to get right when it comes to advertising during the Christmas period. According to many of you, the major retailers behind the big Christmas ads start way too early by airing at the beginning of November. We asked you about your thoughts on the subject and we received 1069 responses. 72.59% of the interviewed people think the beginning of November is too early for the Christmas adverts to be on the air, defeating the purpose of starting the TV festivities too early. While the great response against the early airing of Christmas adverts suggests retailers should wait longer, this is unlikely to change. First of all, people expect big Christmas adverts to air in the first few days of November, secondly they unofficially mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping season,  aiding retailers (as well as buyers) in spreading the shopping demands across two months instead of one.

Buying Preference

It might be useful to know for retailers that most of the interviewed people (54.91%) will make their Christmas shopping both online and in store this year. This means that the old days when all Christmas shopping was done in store may be long gone and retailers can no longer afford to not have an online presence. Since the Christmas shopping will be done both instore and online, the majority of sales is likely to happen between the end of November and the beginning of December as to prevent late deliveries and take full advantage of sales such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday.


While everyone likes a good sale, and some of the Christmas shopping will be done during sales and promotional days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday (38.57%), most people won’t wait for sales days or promotions to buy Christmas gifts (56.86%). Sales can be very stressful with endless queues, mass amounts of people and your own self-control debating against them and are often used as a treat for one’s own closet as opposed to filling the space under the Christmas tree. The important message for retailers is that while some of the sales items will be ticked off Santa’s list, the majority of them will not be, meaning the majority of the Christmas shopping is likely to happen after the sales period.

Now that you know a little bit more about customers’ behaviour during the Christmas period, what are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.