It's official: today marks 100 days to Christmas. We may be only just getting used to the fact that summer is coming to an end, but the countdown to the festive season has begun, at least for some of us. Research from TopCashback.co.uk reveals that nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers admit to getting distracted and not achieving what they want from Christmas shopping trips. So if you don't want to face a last-minute rush, it may be worth getting on top of things.
Their survey shows that both online and offline shoppers waste an average of seven hours as they procrastinate on their Christmas shopping. This results in over £150 spent on unnecessary coffees, long lunches, and buying things for themselves rather than gifts for others. When it comes to online distractions, people get waylaid researching what they are going to purchase (62%), logging in to Facebook (54%) and watching videos (18%).
While they have the best intentions, with 34% saying they would like to have their gift-buying completed by mid-December and 27% even by the end of November, more than half (52%) put off festive buying for as long as possible. The reason a majority of people procrastinate is that they don't know what to buy (stated by 58%), while a further 40% find the shops too busy and 37% are overwhelmed by the expense. Meanwhile, 27% state it is simply too stressful to plan, and 10% think shopping is too boring. As a result, if past records are anything to go by, it is likely that 19% will not have finished their shopping until Christmas Eve.
Natasha Rachel Smith, Consumer Affairs editor for TopCashback.co.uk, empathises: "Christmas, and especially the build up to it, can be a stressful time. There are often so many things that need to be done and bought ahead of the event as people want to make the festive season special."
However, not everyone gets quite so distracted. An eager 10% of consumers started planning for Christmas back in January, immediately after the last one. And by this point last year, 5% had even completed all their errands except for perishables. But how do they do it?
Of those who are not distracted while Christmas shopping, 64% say it is because they shop online, 45% plan out what to get everyone before they go shopping, and 41% write a list and stick to it. Furthermore, research from American Express reveals that women are more likely to be ahead of the curve, with almost a quarter of women (24%) having already splashed out on presents at this point in time, compared to just one in seven (14%) men.
Their study shows the top reasons why women have already started, with 66% of women saying they pick up presents in sales whenever they see them, while 49% buy presents throughout the year as they can't carry them all at once, and 30% fear the Christmas crowds. On the contrary, the top reasons why men haven't started include 62% who can't bear the thought of Christmas while it's still warm, 18% who can't be bothered to do it before the last minute, and 18% who are waiting for sales to start.
How to make the most of Christmas shopping
If you're one of the many people dreading the holiday shopping, either for financial reasons or otherwise, American Express has some tips for you. You could wait with the 18% of men until the mid-season and pre-Christmas sales start, or start looking out for vouchers or discount codes. If you know what shops you are planning to hit, you could sign up to their email updates so that you're notified as soon as their sales begin. If you already know exactly what you're going to get someone, shop around and see where you can get the best price, even if this means it may take a little longer to be delivered.
If you still think you won't have enough money to buy all the presents you need to buy even after research and sales-shopping, start saving as much as you can now, using an easy access savings account with monthly interest that will let you rack up some interest in time for Christmas. For those with a family that is comfortable talking about these things, you could also suggest a budget to make sure you're all on the same page and avoid any awkwardness on Christmas Day. And remember that if you have a credit, cashback or store card, you could already have enough in reward points to get some Christmas gifts for free or choose to put your cashback to festive use.
The most important rule of Christmas shopping is as it always has been: don't panic! If you're not sure where to go, consider supporting small, independent retailers where you can often find something truly unique to give to your friends and loved ones. For those of us who are easily overwhelmed, you could consider going with a friend who can hold you accountable for how much you're spending and what on.
However and whenever you choose to do your shopping, there is one thing we can all agree on: the time for shops to start playing Christmas music and selling festive cheer is imminent!
Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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