Brand marketing in a crisis: How to give consumers a very merry Christmas

‘Twas now less three weeks before Christmas…

And the uncertainty surrounding the festive period has not abated.

The public still feel anxious (48%) over relaxed (40%) about 2021, however anxiety is down 7 percentage points from before the second lockdown (55% in September). Optimism (54%) is also up over the same period (46%). Meanwhile people feel ready to jump head-first into 2021, with eagerness rising to 51% (41% in September). 

Yet, with nearly a quarter of the UK population (24%) stating that their disposable incomes have, on average, decreased by 35% compared to this time last year, deliberation over purchasing remains high, with nearly half of all adults (48%) claiming that they are spending more time shopping around for the best deals, a 12% increase since mid-May.  

Silent nights (and days) for retailers 

But, the festive season is, as we know, a rule unto itself.  

The problem for the beleaguered High Street is that over half of all UK consumers (55%) still say that they are going to try and avoid shopping in person as much as possible over the Christmas (+2% since July), whilst the number who state that they are planning to buy more of their gifts online has increased by 6% to just over half (51%). The possibility of a series of very silent nights for bricks and mortar stores looks increasingly probable.  

Intentions and reality are of course two very different things, but with 41% of the population planning on spending less on gifts this year, the anticipated boost in sales from the lifting of lockdown may fall short of expectations.  

There are, however, some glimmers of hope. More than two in five consumers (45%) state that they are aiming to shop locally over the festive period. However, the number who say that this means visiting the high street in their local area has fallen to 44% (-11% from September) whilst those who say that they are planning to buy independent retailers in their area is also down to 45% (-8%). With the plight of small businesses gaining increasing coverage, local does not equate with location, but with supporting independent businesses through online purchases.  

To find out more about what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing as we approach the start of 2021 and what this means for brands and businesses alike download the full report here or get in touch for a personalised presentation of the full findings at

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