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SurveyMonkey study: UK Christmas travel and shopping 2021

SurveyMonkey study: UK Christmas travel and shopping 2021

Key findings:

  • 4 in 10 adults in the U.K. plan on traveling during the upcoming Christmas period, with one in three expecting to fly
  • One in three Brits expect to start their Christmas shopping by October, with those who are worried about supply chain issues more likely to shop ahead of time
  • Younger consumers are leading the charge in Christmas spending, expecting to spend more money this year compared to 2020
  • Digital payments and buy now pay later services are expected to see usage during the Christmas period, especially among younger consumers

More than half of adults in the U.K. (57%) say they don’t plan to travel this Christmas season, though a substantial 41% plan to travel despite lingering uncertainty about Covid. Only 31% say they may cancel their plans entirely this year, half the amount (63%) who said they cancelled their plans last year. Nearly half (46%) expect to modify their travel plans, double the 23% from last year.

Three in 10 (31%) travelers who cancelled their trips last year say they would have made a different choice, highlighting a growing tolerance for risk through the pandemic.

Some 36% of U.K. adults say they plan on flying when traveling during the upcoming Christmas season, but nearly twice as many (64%) plan on traveling by car. Younger age groups are more likely to fly: nearly half (48%) of those aged 18-34 expect to fly, compared with 35% of those 35-64, and 23% of those 65 and older. Among those who are very or somewhat likely to travel for the upcoming Christmas season, flying is as equally popular as driving (61% vs. 60%).

The majority (70%) of Brits plan on traveling within the UK; just  34% plan on venturing outside the UK. Among those who are very or somewhat likely to travel, an equal proportion expect to go outside the UK as within (58% vs. 59%).

Despite 29% of Brits saying they don’t plan on doing any Christmas shopping this year, an equal number (30%) plan on starting their Christmas shopping this year by October, including 22% who have already begun and 8% who plan to do so later this month. Only 16% plan on starting in December.

Nearly 31% of U.K. adults are very or somewhat worried that supply chain issues will affect their Christmas purchases. Concern is greater among younger age groups (18-34), with 43% saying they are worried, compared with 31% of 35-64 and 17% of 65+.

Concerned shoppers are more likely to start their Christmas shopping early. 35% of those who are somewhat or very worried about supply chain issues affecting their purchases plan on starting their purchases by October, versus only 28% of those who are not too worried or not worried at all.

Only 1 in 8 shoppers (13%) say they plan on spending more this season compared to last year, while 36% expect to spend less, and nearly half (47%) plan to stick to their 2020 spending level.

Younger consumers are opening up their wallets, as 20% of Gen Zers are allocating more money to their Christmas budget this year than in 2020. Despite the increase in expected spending among this group, their purchasing power remains lower than that of older shoppers:

  • 3 in 5 (57%) of those aged 18-34 plan on spending £500 or less, with only 26% expecting to spend more than £500 this season
  • 42% of U.K. adults aged 35-64, and 38% of 65+ plan on spending more than £500 

Credit, debit, and cash lead among payment methods for Christmas shopping, with digital or mobile wallets and “Buy Now, Pay Later” services making an appearance, especially among younger consumers. Among those aged 18-34, one in four (23%) plan on using a digital wallet for their Christmas purchases, and 12% expect to use a buy now, pay later service.

Shoppers continue to pivot to online shopping, as 43% say they plan on doing more of their shopping online, and fewer than 1 in 5 (18%) plan on doing more in-person shopping. 

Read more about our polling methodology here