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Brits set to spend £5.6bn in festive sales, as shoppers search for sustainable bargains

26 December 2021

  • Consumers plan to spend an average of £247 in the post-Christmas sales this year, up £85 compared to 2020 and up £61 compared to 2019
  • Shoppers are looking for more sustainable bargains, with 27 per cent making an effort to purchase fewer ‘fast fashion’ items and 26 per cent intending to cut back on plastic goods
  • Boxing Day remains the most popular day to start sales shopping, but some bargain hunters will be looking for discounts as early as Christmas Eve
  • Many Brits are opting to shop online, with 45 per cent citing new restrictions as a reason to stay indoors and 40 per cent wanting to avoid crowded area

Brits are planning to splash out in post-Christmas sales, with spending set to be higher this year than in both 2019 and 2020.

New research from Barclaycard Payments, which processes nearly £1 in every £3 spent on credit and debit cards in the UK, shows that shoppers plan to spend an average of £247 each in the end of year sales, an increase of £85 compared to 2020 and £61 from 2019, as Brits look to treat themselves after another challenging 12 months*.

Boxing Day remains the most popular day to start sales shopping, with almost four in 10 (37 per cent) looking to make purchases on this day, up 10 per cent compared to 2020 (27 per cent). Some bargain hunters are set to start browsing the sales on Christmas Eve (30 per cent) while 27 per cent also admit they will spend some time shopping on Christmas Day.

Clothes, shoes and accessories (31 per cent) and food and drink (25 per cent) are at the top of shoppers’ sales lists this year. Discounted Christmas-related items, such as decorations, are close behind with nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of shoppers looking to make savings now by preparing for Christmas 2022.

Conscious Sales Hunters

Consumers also plan to shop more sustainably, with 27 per cent planning to buy fewer ‘fast fashion’ items and a further 26 per cent making a conscious effort to reduce spending on plastic goods. In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, 25 per cent of those shopping online say they will also cut back on over ordering and returning, while 20 per cent will be seeking deals with retailers that have more sustainable practices.

Buying from local retailers is another way Brits are planning to shop more responsibly, with 22 per cent looking to support smaller businesses and those closer to home in the sales.

Online Comforts 

It seems the reintroduction of mandatory face coverings, as well as the fact that some retailers will be closed on Boxing Day itself, will lead to the majority of shoppers looking to conduct their sales shopping online. Nearly half (45 per cent) of shoppers saying they will shop less frequently in-store over the sales period as a result; with four in 10 opting to shop online in an effort to avoid queues and crowds (40 per cent).

The majority (76 per cent) also plan on spending more money online in the sales than in-store. Just 10 per cent intend to spend more in physical shops and 14 per cent say they expect to spend equal amounts in-store and online.

However, Covid-19 concerns were not the only reason for online shopping being favoured by Brits. A third (34 per cent) say they prefer online shopping in general, 32 per cent say it is more efficient and allows them to spend time with family and friends during the holidays, and an additional 27 per cent say they do not want to brave the unpredictable British weather.

Friends, Family and Festivities

While post-Christmas sales typically launched on Boxing Day in years gone by, today many retailers begin discounting in the days earlier, and this, combined with the popularity of online shopping is shifting how consumers are spending their time over the festive period. More than half (52 per cent) of the nation plan to spend time with their friends and family at home this Boxing Day, making up for last year’s missed opportunities. Two fifths (42 per cent) will be embracing the festivities with special Christmas TV shows and films, and a further 18 per cent are planning to use the time at home to binge-watch the latest boxsets and TV series.

Brits will also be sales shopping with families and friends in mind, with a quarter (24 per cent) planning to buy gifts for their nearest and dearest. A fifth (20 per cent) are shopping for deals on experiences they can share such as concert tickets, and the same number (20 per cent) are hoping to book a discounted holiday to make up for missed trips over the past year.

Inflation Looms

Despite sales spending predicted to be higher than last year and 2019, nearly half (47 per cent) of consumers believe inflation may impact how much they buy overall, with 49 per cent of these respondents intending to spend less than they usually would.

Against the backdrop of looming price increases in 2022, shoppers appear to be making the most of the opportunity to stock up on things they’ll need over the next few months, with 37 per cent looking to find items for upcoming birthdays. Similarly, 29 per cent say they’ll be shopping for next Christmas and 22 per cent will be looking for Mother’s Day gifts.

Harshna Cayley, Head of Online Payments, Barclaycard Payments, said: “The rise in spending when compared to the last two years is a reassuring sign for retailers, showing that, despite inflation increasing and worries about the new Covid-19 variant, consumers are keen to continue the tradition of sales shopping; even when some of the larger retailers are closing their physical stores on Boxing Day itself.

“Yet, we are also becoming more conscious about the purchases we make. With environmental concerns and the cost of everyday living front of mind, many Brits are seeking sustainable goods and services but also, financially planning for the year ahead by taking advantage of deals to buy items for celebrations in the 2022.

Clare Bailey, Independent Retail Expert and founder of The Retail Champion: “I’m encouraged to see that the Christmas sales are more popular than ever, despite the challenges of the past year and looming impact of inflation.

“As one of the biggest moments in the retail calendar, it’s promising that so many people are prioritising sustainable shopping and thinking about the wider impact of their purchases. Based on my conversations with retailers, I know local businesses are expecting high demand this festive sales period so I’m very pleased to see the relationship between consumers and their local shops remains strong.”

Notes to editors

About the data

OnePoll surveyed 2,000 respondents about their Boxing Day spending habits and how their shopping behaviours would be affected if new restrictions were introduced. It provided a nationally representative sample of UK consumers by age, gender, region and income group, between 3rd – 7th December 2021.

*Calculation for £5.6 billion spending figure:

Average spend = £246.6945412311 for 43.05% of total respondents

UK adult population is 52,890,044, 43.05% of which is 22,769,164

£246.6945412311 X 22,769,164 = £5,617,028,467

For more information, please contact the MHP Barclaycard press office team on mhpbarclaycardpressoffice@mhpc.com or +44 (0) 7809 539 376.

About Barclaycard

Barclaycard, part of Barclays Bank PLC, is a leading global payment business that helps consumers, retailers and businesses to make and take payments flexibly, and to access short-term credit. In the UK we process nearly £1 in every £3 spent using credit and debit cards, and in 2020 we processed over £267bn in transactions globally. We also partner with a wide range of organisations across the globe to offer their customers or members payment options and credit.


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