Surprising Christmas Shopping Facts for Online Stores

December 13, 2023 / eCommerce

If you’re an online retailer, it’s always a good idea to understand the market you are operating in. With the festive season now upon us, we thought we’d take a closer look at the way people shop in the run-up to and over the Christmas period. Here are the surprising facts we discovered.

What people buy at Christmas

Sales data shows that we do far more than fork out for presents during the Christmas season. Over the last few years, the top-selling retail categories have been clothing and accessories, food and beverage, toys and hobbies, electronics and home and kitchen. The specific items at the top of the list were food and drink, clothes, shoes and books.   

Christmas shopping behaviours

While 60% of people start shopping before December, 62% of them still buy presents in the last week before Christmas. Indeed, the week of the 15th to the 24th of December accounts for around 40% of all Christmas sales with people buying last-minute presents and stocking up on food and drink.  

In the run-up, 68% of consumers pay more attention to advertising emails, making it one of the best times of the year to send them – and the good news for smaller retailers is that 67% plan to buy from a wider range of online retailers as they look for bargains, hard to find products and unique gifts.

When it comes to delivery, nearly half of consumers say they don’t want to pay for shipping, while a staggering 85% say they prefer free delivery to fast delivery, even though there’s a deadline ahead. With people spending a lot of money, delivery costs are one thing they want to keep to a minimum.  

Big spenders

Knowing which demographic groups spend more at Christmas can be really helpful when it comes to targeting your market and buying in stock. Statistically, while men and women buy roughly the same number of items, it’s the men who splash out more. Last year, the average UK male spent £410 compared to £373 for the average female.

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When it comes to age groups, last year Gen X spent the most, with an average of £425, followed by Millennials at £416.  While these groups spend similar amounts and are both big online customers, Gen X often spends more on entertainment and fashion and does so from pure-play brands, i.e., those that specialise in one niche (Apple, Nike, Game, etc.)

While the spending figures above are average, a closer analysis shows that the main group to spend £1,500 or more at Christmas are the over 55s. This group has more disposable income as they are at the top end of their careers, have paid off the mortgage and their kids have left home.

For online stores looking for where to advertise to these customers, there’s another surprise in the bag. While Google ads are going to get seen by more people than Bing ads and bring in more traffic, you’re Bing ROI is potentially higher. Last year, Bing searchers spent 34% more than the average search engine user.

Shopping inspiration

While we’ve already mentioned that 68% of people pay more attention to marketing emails in the run-up to Christmas, there are some other surprising facts about how they get their inspiration. 66% of consumers search for ideas and research prices online, while 23% of them rely on social media when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Instagram seems to have the biggest impact here with 23% of all shoppers and 37% of Gen Z using it for inspiration. Most online shoppers, over 80%, will now pay close attention to ratings and reviews before making a purchase – both for the product and for unfamiliar companies.

When it comes to acquiring new customers, free shipping is an obvious temptation. However, over 60% of customers admit to being tempted by previously unused companies if they offer cheaper prices and 45% by those that offer unique items.

More sales online?

The impact of the pandemic means it’s hard to see the last few years’ statistics, when online shopping rose massively, as part of a trend. With bricks and mortar stores now fully opened, more people will be tempted to shop in physical stores than in 2020 and 2021. And while 60% of shoppers would prefer to shop online, not all of them do. Though online stores offer convenience and often cheaper prices, physical stores give them a better chance to see the products up close and deliver a more festive shopping experience. Predictions vary. VoucherCodes estimates that 51% of Christmas sales will be online in 2022, while Statista predicts it will be 40%, however, it only looked at five areas (travel, toys, apparel, beauty and food and drink.)


There is a wealth of information available today to help online retailers better understand how consumers behave during the Christmas shopping period. Hopefully, you’ll find the statistics above interesting and useful in helping your online store benefit in the run-up to next year’s festive season. Give your online store a Christmas sales boost by upgrading to our secure and superfast VPS hosting.


  • Arjun Shinde

    I'm an experienced digital marketer with expertise in planning, SEO, SEM, and social media. I'm good at creating engaging content and optimising campaigns for a strong online presence.

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