Blog: Key shopping trends this Christmas

Arguably the biggest retail event of the year, the run-up to Christmas can be a truly magical time on the high street. As well as the lights, music and palpable energy of last-minute shoppers, numerous eye-catching and engaging activations are on show. Over the festive period, adm’s Insights and Innovation team has been on the lookout for key trends shaping the Christmas shopping experience and we have identified three stand-out themes: amazing in-store experiences, efforts to slow down shoppers and the democratisation of luxury.

Amazing in-store experiences

Working hard to break through the noise and stand-out amongst competitors this Christmas, many big brands have activated engaging in-store experiences. For example, Iceland’s in-store ice rink enables customers to collect their groceries on ice skates! Responding to research revealing that 83% of children find it boring to food-shop with their parents, the supermarket’s Stratford store is awash with Christmas spirit and their inventive idea offers an exciting alternative to the ordinarily stressful Christmas shop.

Similarly innovative, Sky’s Pass on Plastic pop-up store makes a lasting impression on consumers looking for environmentally friendly Christmas gifts. Aiming to raise awareness of plastic’s detrimental effect on our oceans, the store showcases its recycled products (designed by eco-conscious celebrities) amongst provoking artwork. While the store appears to be beautifully decorated, the wallpaper is in fact images of plastic debris, and the lavish display of fish dishes are, upon closer inspection, laced with plastic waste. The stores unsettling effect is not easily forgotten and serves another great example of an effective in-store experience.

Slowing down shoppers in-store

As explored in adm’s recent POPAI report, slowing down shoppers in-store has become increasingly important. Greggs, a bakery typically associated with its speed, is encouraging shoppers to relax by offering a free in-store gift-wrapping service, complete with a complementary glass of mulled wine. With a recent study revealing that 69% of people find the festive season stressful (with shopping for presents, gift-wrapping and washing-up being the most dreaded of chores), Greggs efforts to slow down shoppers in-store will both benefit the mindset of their customers and help to foster brand-loyalty.

Democratisation of luxury

In recent years, the rules of luxury have been re-written and previously unobtainable brands have become more accessible . This is particularly apparent at Tiffany & Co’s Style Studio in Covent Garden, where the store’s traditional look has been reinvented to capture the attention of all consumers. ‘T’ logos and neon signs cover the Tiffany blue walls, and an instragrammable vending machine dispenses perfume beside a Christmas tree made from newspaper cuttings. Further utilising social media steams, beatboxing robots situated outside the store project a personalised festive message when passers-by tweet Tiffany & Co.  Curated to encourage shoppers to slow down, Tiffany & Co’s Style Studio also offers the opportunity to personalise jewellery using on-site touchscreens and iPads. Similarly, Nixon’s watch store allows customers to create truly bespoke goods by offering them the option of choosing every element of their watch, consequently adding a personal touch to the brand’s luxury product.

Mintel forecasted that retail sales would grow about 4% both in the final quarter of 2018 and in December itself, with more than three quarters of the sales expected to be made from physical stores. Despite talk that online shopping is taking over, consumers are still buying in-store and smart retailers are ensuring that they stand-out to entice shoppers inside and to keep them there. As we’ve outlined above, successful retailers are creating experiences, slowing shoppers down and making luxury more accessible. Brands will have to be truly innovative in 2019 to differentiate themselves, something adm can help with.