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Consumers holding out for last minute Christmas bargains

But 58 per cent won't be cutting their spending this year and 64 per cent will visit new shops

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Consumers holding out for last minute Christmas bargains

But 58 per cent won't be cutting their spending this year and 64 per cent will visit new shops

A survey of 2,700 UK consumers by Retail Eyes, the customer experience improvement agency, has found that almost one in five people (17 per cent) will leave Christmas shopping until the final week before Christmas.

More than half of these last minute shoppers (53 per cent) are waiting for inspiration for present choices, 22 per cent won't have the time to shop before then and 17 per cent are hoping to benefit from last minute bargains.

The tough economic climate hasn't reduced the budget for Christmas presents across the board - 45 per cent are planning to spend the same as last year, and 13 per cent will be spending more.

The trend towards online shopping is continuing to grow this Christmas, with more than four in five people (81 per cent) planning to make at least one present purchase online. Eight per cent of people are planning to avoid the high street altogether and do all their present shopping online. In contrast, 10 per cent will remain loyal to the high street and do all of their shopping there - however, two thirds will minimise time in the shops by researching potential purchases online before hitting the shops.

Simon Boydell, marketing manager for Retail Eyes, comments: "Our survey results show that there is a real opportunity for retailers to capitalise on the last minute Christmas spending spree forecast to start on Saturday 18th December. More than six out of 10 consumers (64 per cent) also said that they plan to visit a shop they wouldn't normally
make purchases in, with toy shops topping the list for one-off purchases.

But with this late shopping will come more frustration for shoppers - 87 per cent of people surveyed found crowds and long queues the most frustrating aspects of Christmas shopping and this is set to increase as Christmas approaches and last minute shoppers hit the high street.
Luckily for retailers, the festive atmosphere (as well as bargains) will keep people coming shopping in-store. For 68 per cent of people, the festive spirit is the most enjoyable aspect of Christmas shopping on the high street. Boydell concluded: "Customer facing staff make the biggest difference to the Christmas shopping experience and their enthusiasm during this period can really influence sales."

Top tips from Retail Eyes for great customer service this festive period:

1. Mind your manners - This is the first rule of customer service. Even when it's frantic, it's important to be polite - it doesn't cost a thing but poor manners can cost you business.

2. First impressions are everything - Give customers a warm welcome. By greeting customers as soon as they get in the door, they are more likely to stay longer and spend more money.

3. Stay calm at all times - When times are busy and queues are long, staff often bear the brunt of frustrated customers. The best way to deal with aggressive behaviour is to be calm, don't raise your voice and treat the customer with empathy and understanding. It's unlikely
that they will expect this response so you can turn the situation to your advantage. Generally, Britons are happy to queue up for something they value, but by communicating with them you can make their experience a much more positive one.

4. The gift of feedback! - Gaining feedback is vital to protecting your brand reputation. Without this, you'll never know who is unhappy with your product or service to be able to take the steps necessary to tackle areas of poor service and rebuild your relationship with those customers.

5. Train temporary staff - Treat temporary staff like any other employee and make sure they get all the training they need for your business and customer care. If they're not treated like other staff they will not interact with the customers in the same way. They're just as important at projecting the image of your venue as your regular employees so make sure they feel involved and valued.

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