Stressed Christmas shoppers want retailers to change the experience

While everyone may be getting into the Christmas spirit and picking out their favourite Christmas films and starting to enjoy Christmassy food, there is one aspect of Christmas that still inspires strong emotions in British consumers.

For al the joys of giving your loved ones gifts, the process of buying said gifts is a source of much stress, according to new research from Barclaycard. The card issuer found three quarters (72%) of the British population get stressed while Christmas shopping – with the figure rising to 80% for women. Six in 10 (63%) consumers think retailers should do more to relieve Christmas shopping stresses.

And what may be these stresses? Just under half of respondents (46%) said large crowds; a third said long queues at checkout or fitting rooms; carrying heavy bags (25%); being too hot in-store (24%) or having to drag their coat around (14%) as the main things inducing stress. Three out of ten (34%) of in-store customers will abandon their purchase if they experience poor service, a similar number to online purchases (28%).

Staying on online, slow-loading websites are a major source of frustration for e-shoppers, while 7% are frustrated by websites that aren’t mobile friendly. More consumers also want a better fusion of online and offline as 35% say they want to be able to check stock online before visiting a store.

A further 57 per cent say they’re less likely to shop with the brand in the future if they experience stress at Christmas time.

All of these figures point to the importance of keeping a customer satisfied – while that has always been the number one rule, now it’s much easier to fall foul of given that customer demands are changing so rapidly. A different study found that nearly half of UK online shoppers abandon online baskets at checkout if their preferred payment method is not offered.

Barclaycard’s research confirms this idea of a more demanding, commerce-savvy shopper. Respondents in their study put forward some ideas on how to reduce the stress and intensity of Christmas shopping. Thirty five percent suggest extending shopping hours, while a third would like free seasonal snacks and drinks as “sweeteners”. A quarter (23%) believe introducing free of charge cloakrooms where customers can drop off bags and coats would be useful.

Sharon Manikon, Customer Solutions Director at Barclaycard, said:

“Christmas is a really hectic time for everyone – retailers as well as consumers. Just because it’s extra busy, though, doesn’t mean that consumers should be resigned to poor service – whether buying online or in-store. In fact, many shoppers have said that if they suffer frustrations at the hands of a brand, they may not return, having ramifications for the business’s bottom line.

“The good news for retailers is that it’s not always the costly things that consumers are calling for. Stressed shoppers have told us it’s the relatively small things like a pick-me-up in store or a cloakroom service that will make a big difference. If merchants – no matter what their size or capability – can introduce some of these measures to ‘de-stress Christmas’, it will help ensure consumers return again and again, long after the decorations have come down.”

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