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COVID-Recovery Tracker | Christmas preparations & the latest twist (aka Omicron!)

Published under COVID-Recovery Tracker
Written by John Gurd

Depressing to see levels of optimism and confidence slide backwards after a sustained period of improvement:

  • People are only directional more optimistic about their financial situation and personal lives now than they were a year ago, before a single vaccine dose had been administered
  • Confidence in shops and public spaces is much better than it was before news of new variants and the re-introduction of compulsory face masks is likely to take its toll
  • People feel that any return to ‘Normality’ is further away and less certain now than it was this time last year

As we hear daily news of surging cases across Europe and the arrival of Omicron in the UK the level of public support for tighter restrictions is growing but remains a topic which will polarise opinion:

  • Support for tighter restrictions is driven by older members of society (55+) while the majority of 16-34 year olds are happy with things the way they are.

Mask wearing is likely to become a hot-topic again this week and it will be interesting to see whether people follow the rules having increasingly gotten out of the habit since restrictions were eased.

 

Real enthusiasm to spend this year with a huge volume of Christmas purchases yet to be made

The majority of households expect spend this Christmas to exceed pre-pandemic levels with enthusiasm to spend fuelled by the desire to make up for lost time (last Christmas was rubbish!), as well price rises which people believe they are seeing across categories.

There is no sign in our research that Christmas planning started any earlier this year and there is evidence to suggest around half of Christmas purchases across categories are yet to be made.

While Amazon continues to dominate the thoughts and wallets of consumers the degree of dominance has been eroded year-on-year as our main grocers regain a share of mental availability (i.e. the first place they think of for Christmas shopping).

  • This is in line with a bounce back towards in-store shopping for non-food gifts compared to last year.

The much hyped shortages of non-food products are yet to materialise based on consumer perceptions but there has been a marked increase in the perceived price of goods across categories.

If restrictions and the government allow December can and should be a bumper time for retail. We will watch with interest what impact new restrictions have on peoples willingness to go shopping.

Click here to read our full report