Peak trading – Loyalty loses out as cost-of-living bites for Christmas 2022

Brand loyalty has slipped from the first to fourth most important factor when purchasing for Christmas year-on-year (YOY) as UK and European consumers prioritise lower prices as the cost-of-living crisis impacts the outlook for Peak Trading season 2022, the latest report from Astound Commerce reveals.

Original research which surveyed a total of 1,000 global shoppers, provides an insight into how consumer shopping behaviours have evolved and where they are headed as consumers feel the impact from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has prompted rising food, fuel and energy petrol prices, extended supply chain disruption and inventory shortages.

The poll revealed that economic uncertainty and geo-political instability was undermining consumer confidence.  72 per cent of global consumers say the economy is going in the wrong direction, increasing to 77 per cent of UK and European consumers, while less than half of respondents (46 per cent) feel confident they can afford their monthly expenses. To combat rising prices, consumers have altered their spending habits, and are now shopping less frequently than in previous years— this year, 55 per cent shop online at least weekly, down from 61 per cent in 2021.

Looking ahead to Peak 2022, more consumers report they will spend less on purchasing this season compared to the previous year (33 per cent versus 15 per cent YOY).  When asked what factors would determine which brands consumers shop with during the 2022 Peak season, UK and European respondents prioritised lower costs (1st), quality and selection of products (2nd) and convenience options (3rd). Brand values that aligned with the consumers and supporting small, local businesses fell in importance (from 3rd to 5th and 4th to 6th respectively) as consumers prioritise cost over ethical considerations.

Speed of delivery, free returns (both 73 per cent) and a flexible returns policy (72 per cent) top UK and European consumers list of the most-desired onsite features.

“With consumers’ cost of living increasing, the battle for share of wallet will inevitably intensify. Brands should look to make transacting as easy and seamless as possible, inspiring confidence in the consumer that they are making the right choice. The experience is everything—now more than ever,” commented Samuel Cane, managing director, Astound Commerce UK.

“Acquiring new customers will likely be challenging in Q4, so marginal returns due to excess discounting to win shoppers on price simply aren’t worth it—and brand price matching strategies can essentially equalise all prices anyway. Instead, retailers must win shoppers on brand value, staying true to who they are and competitive based on their differentiators and the consistent, high-quality shopping and customer service experiences consumers expect.”

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