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Coronavirus: Christmas shoppers are buying gifts early due to pandemic, survey shows

Majority plan to have completed their Christmas shopping by the end of November

Sarah Young
Wednesday 28 October 2020 09:25
Boris Johnson warns crisis will remain 'bumpy until Christmas and possibly beyond'
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People are getting a head start on their Christmas shopping this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey finds.

More than 60 per cent of shoppers said they plan to buy presents by the end of November with only two per cent saying they will embrace the festive rush and wait until Christmas Eve.

While coronavirus restrictions in the UK mean Christmas is unlikely to be normal, the survey of 2,000 people by OnePoll, commissioned by John Lewis, nearly one third said they were planning Christmas earlier this year.

This includes putting up Christmas decorations, preparing homemade gifts, and sending cards sooner.

Of those who said they were planning ahead, 47 per cent said spreading the cost was a factor, and more than half said they plan to spend less on gifts this year.

Similarly, almost one third said they would be making their own presents – a trend echoed by the sale of craft kits at John Lewis, which are up 85 per cent this year from last.

Twice as many people also said they plan to give a gift to members of their communities or neighbours this year, at almost a quarter of those surveyed.

According to John Lewis’s sales figures, many sales of Christmas hampers are already up 265 per cent, while sales of gift cards have risen by 80 per cent.

People are also buying more Christmas cards – as more than 70 per cent said they plan to post more or the same amount of cards this year than last.

Sales of Christmas lights are already up 48 per cent at John Lewis, and wreaths up 40 per cent, as almost 40 per cent of participants said they plan to decorate more areas of their homes this year, partly to provide a festive backdrop for video calls to friends and family.

Christmas tree sales are also up 128 per cent compared with last year, and advent calendars up 48 per cent.

Dan Cooper, christmas buyer for John Lewis, said: “It will undoubtedly be a Christmas like never before and one we know will be very challenging for many, but there seems to be a determination to end the year on a positive note and indulge in the festive spirit earlier than ever.

”People are giving more thought to how they stay in touch with friends and family and how they can make someone's Christmas that bit more special.

“Shoppers are understandably wanting to capture as much of the traditional experience and celebrations as possible.”

Earlier this month, the government responded to a second wave of infections with a three-tiered system of local lockdowns, meaning many people are now banned from socialising with other households either indoors or outdoors.

The new rules have prompted concerns from people that they will be unable to celebrate Christmas with their loved ones if infection rates continue to rise.

When asked how people might be able to celebrate Christmas, environment secretary George Eustice told Sky News: “The prime minister has been very clear, as we all are, that we want people to celebrate Christmas in a way that is as close to normal as possible.

”But it is too early to be able to say exactly what the situation will be come Christmas, and exactly what different parts of the country will or will not be able to do.

“Obviously checking the spread of this virus is paramount, but alongside that we want people to live their lives as close to normal as possible, including at Christmas which is an incredibly important time for families.”

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