Every year we flock to Google to help us find the perfect festive gifts for our friends and family, and every year it always seems that the Christmas season starts earlier and earlier as people decorate their houses, put up their trees and start thinking about the perfect gifts for their loved ones. And whilst Christmas 2020 was anything but normal, this year consumers and retailers alike are hoping for a holiday season that’s a little closer to what we’re used to... Don't let us down, Boris!
So how has the last year been reflected in the UK’s Christmas shopping habits? When exactly do we start searching for those perfect Christmas gifts? Which UK cities leave their Christmas shopping to the last minute, and which have their shopping done by December?
Christmas Shopping Statistics in a Nutshell
- The area of the UK that leaves its Christmas shopping the latest when searching for gifts online is Slough.
- The area of the UK that prepared the earliest for the festive season is Wigan, with most of their Christmas gift searches out of the way before December even started in 2020!
- Searches for ‘luxury Christmas gifts’ are down 32.7% from 2020*.
- In November 2020 searches for ‘slippers’ went up an entire 100% from the previous year, thanks to lockdown.
- Most Christmas gift-related search terms had over 80% of their search volume in the final three months of the year.
*This figure was reached by calculating the number of searches for ‘luxury Christmas gifts’ from 2020 and 2021 between January and September of both years, in order to reach a proportional figure, since 2021 doesn’t have a full year of figures available just yet.
What do the UK's Christmas Shopping Habits say about 2021?
Each year it seems that searches for ‘Christmas gifts’ go through a similar pattern, as made very clear by Google Trends. As you can see, the searches are already starting to creep back up to where they will hit their peak in December, and drop back down again in January if the pattern from the last couple of years is anything to go by.
UK Google searches for ‘Christmas gifts’ from September 2019 to November 2021. Source: Google Trends
The peak in 2020 shows a noticeable increase from the one in 2019—this could be because more of us were searching online for our Christmas gifts last year due to lockdown and physical shops being shut, so even those who might have gone out to their local high street for their annual festive shopping had little choice but to go online.
We used the Keyword Finder tool to look at Google searches in the UK per month for:
- Christmas gifts
- Last minute Christmas gifts
- Christmas gifts for wife
- Christmas gifts for husband
- Cheap Christmas gifts
- Luxury Christmas gifts
According to the data, we found that:
- Unsurprisingly, the generic ‘Christmas gifts’ search was the most popular, with a whopping 848,800 searches overall in 2020, and 284,900 searches from January to October 2021. And considering that 712,000 of the searches in 2020 for ‘Christmas gifts’ were placed in October, November and December alone, it looks like the 2021 searches are on a similar trajectory to soar in the months of November and December.
- Searches for ‘cheap Christmas gifts’ was the second most popular term, with 47,820 searches over the course of 2020.
- ‘Christmas gifts for wife’ and ‘Christmas gifts for husband’ were the third and fourth most popular terms respectively in 2020, with over 45,000 searches for gifts for wives, and over 34,000 searches for gifts for husbands. Whether people are searching these because they want something Christmas-themed that specifically says ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ on it, or just because they have no idea what kind of gifts their spouse likes after all this time, we’re not judging! …Much.
- From January to October 2021, ‘Christmas gifts for husband’ actually had more searches than ‘Christmas gifts for wife’, with 4,800 searches and 3,600 searches respectively. If we look at the 2020 searches from January to October to get a more even time range for both years (we’re good, but we’re not ‘see into the future’ good when it comes to 2021’s figures), we can see that the figures for searches are surprisingly similar, with 4,300 of us searching for gifts for our husbands this year, and 3,200 of us searching for the perfect gifts for our wives. So by the end of 2021, the figures may well have caught up with 2020’s!
- Comparing 2020 and 2021, there was a 6% rise in ‘cheap Christmas gift’ searches, while ‘luxury Christmas gifts’ plummeted over 30%.
How many Christmas Gift Searches were made in the Final Months of the Year?
Looking at the Google Trends graph earlier on in this piece, it is clear that even popular, more general terms such as ‘Christmas gifts’ are seemingly non-existent for most of the year, before starting a gradual uptick after summer, and massively spiking in the winter months. We were curious to see just how dramatic this spiking really was when it came to our other festive Google searches, so we had a look at what percentage of searches are made in the festive months, compared to the rest of the year.
As is made clear by the bar chart:
- ‘Luxury Christmas gifts’ is the search term with the lowest percentage (78.3%) of its search volume taking place in the final three months of the year, making it the only search term with under 80% of its search volume in the festive months.
- Almost all the search terms had over 80% of their search volumes in the final three months of the year. The only exceptions were ‘last minute Christmas gifts’, and ‘luxury Christmas gifts’, though the latter did have 78.31% of its searches made in October, November and December, so it’s not too far off.
- Remember how ‘christmas gifts for wife’ and ‘christmas gifts for husband’ had over 45,000 and 34,000 searches respectively in 2020, but so far in 2021 they only have 3,600 and 4,800 searches? Well according to our research, ‘christmas gifts for wife’ had a massive 97.10% of its searches take place in the final three months of 2020, and ‘christmas gifts for husband’ wasn’t far behind, with 95.78% of searches taking place between October and December of 2020 alone. We understand; for most families the kids come first, so it’s no wonder that couples will put off each others’ gifts until the last minute.
When do we Start Looking for Christmas Gifts?
While it always feels like the festive season creeps up on us earlier and earlier every year, there may be some truth to that. Looking at our Keyword Finder research, we found that:
- Compared to 2020, there was a 28.9% increase in people searching for ‘Christmas gifts’ in the months of January, February and March of 2021, with just over 11,000 searches in those months alone in 2021, whereas in 2020 just over 8,500 searches were conducted in the early months of the year.
- Looking at searches for ‘Christmas gifts’ from the months of January, February and March in both 2020 and 2021, there was a slight increase in searches for ‘cheap Christmas gifts’, and a slight decrease in searches for ‘luxury Christmas gifts’.
- This gap becomes more pronounced in later months of the year, with an increase of just over 8% in searches for cheaper gifts, and a decrease of 33.7% in searches for luxurious gifts in the months from June to September.
The decrease in the search for luxurious, top-of-the-line Christmas gifts, paired with the turn toward a more value-focused Christmas this year isn’t all that surprising; with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our social lives, our businesses and our wallets for the last couple of years, it comes as no shock that many of us are looking to be a little more frugal with our Christmas spending.
According to a survey run by eBay Ads:
- 26% of shoppers using the website have less disposable income than before the pandemic.
- 19% have more disposable income, but only around a quarter of those people are intending to save it for Christmas presents, with the rest having other plans for their extra dough, whether it’s saving it for the future or spending it on a well-earned holiday.
Which UK Cities leave their Christmas Shopping until the Last Minute?
One of the biggest stresses when it comes to the holiday season is making sure you have that mountain of gifts stored away in the back of the wardrobe or in the store cupboard in time for the big day. Preparation is everything, and some of the more organised of us spread their Christmas shopping out all through the year, taking advantage of year-round sales, discount codes, and far more time than those of us who only start preparing in late November. Starting early can be great for those of us with less money, or who perhaps struggle with anxiety around the many, many requirements of the holiday season. But how many of us leave our gift buying until the last minute?
We used Keyword Finder to take a nosey at Google searches for ‘Christmas gifts’ per month in different cities throughout the UK, curious to see what percentage of us were leaving it until December to search for gifts.
As shown by the bar chart above:
- Slough is the area that leaves Christmas shopping the latest, with 52.6% of the Google searches for ‘Christmas gifts’ in the last few months of the year taking place in December.
- Rochdale has the second highest percentage of gifts bought in December, with 50.9% of the ‘Christmas gifts’ Google searches from the Northern town. This is then followed by London, Reading, Sale and Cambridge.
- On the other side of the shiny foil wrapping paper, we found that the UK city with the lowest percentage of Christmas gifts searched for in December was Wigan, with only 20% of Google searches taking place in December of 2020. Well done for being organised, Wigan!
- This was then followed by Gateshead and Sunderland, with 21.1% and 23.1% of gifts respectively searched for in December.
If only we could all be as well prepared as Wigan, Gateshead and Sunderland, perhaps our holiday seasons would involve a little less mad rushing and hasty wrapping on Christmas Eve, and a little more relaxing with a mug of Baileys hot chocolate by the fire.
We decided to have a peek at some specific Christmas gift ideas, to see whether they had similar patterns in searches. We used Keyword Finder as well as Google Trends to look for patterns, and to see if there were any differences in popularity between 2021 and previous years.
Christmas Searches for 'Slippers'
Searches for ‘slippers’ peaked in November 2020 more than they have in years, according to Keyword Finder.
The Christmas spike each year is clear to see from the graph, standing out clearly, but in 2020 searches for ‘slippers’ spiked twice—once between April and May, and again in November. Why? Well, thanks to our good old friend lockdown, of course. Since the first lockdown was just after March, it makes sense that people were looking to be comfortable for their elongated stays indoors. And when we heard in November that Christmas was going to be an indoor event, people clearly felt it important to invest in some good slippers for the holiday season. And looking at the edge of the graph, it looks like searches for ‘slippers’ are already rising for this year’s festive spike.
Christmas Searches for 'Socks', 'Pyjamas' and 'Slippers'
UK Google searches for ‘socks’, ‘pyjamas’ and ‘slippers’ from September 2019 to November 2021. Source: Google Trends
Staying cosy and comfortable is what we all wanted to do in the year of 2020, especially when it came around to Christmas. Partying wasn’t exactly on the agenda, so many of us turned our efforts to having a small, cosy Christmas at home, whether it was with loved ones in person or over a video call.
In the Google Trends chart above, the lime green represents the search term ‘socks’, the red represents ‘pyjamas’, and the orange represents ‘slippers’. There is a clear jump from 2019’s festive peak, though all three searches undoubtedly soared in the Christmas period. But in 2020, all three search terms almost doubled in popularity compared to previous years, making it obvious that Christmas of 2020 was a holiday season like no other, even if it did just mean it was more cosy than usual.
How much do we Spend on Christmas Presents each Year?
With the mountains of presents growing every time the festive season rears its tinsel-covered head, it’s no wonder the Christmas season seems to get more and more expensive each year.
According to Voucher Codes’ Shopping For Christmas 2021: The Christmas Period report:
- Retail sales are expected to rise by 6.3%, a considerable amount from 2020’s Christmas period, which makes sense considering we were in a nationwide lockdown, with next to no shops open and therefore far less places to spend money.
- The UK has a forecasted £84.7 billion to be spent, compared to last year’s measly £79.7 billion. Okay, perhaps not measly, but considering in 2019 we spent about £83.1 billion, the 4.1% dip in sales during 2020 is quite prevalent.
- The year of 2020 was also significant in the growth of online spending and the shortage of offline retail spending. Online spending grew a huge 58.2% in 2020, when it had only had a growth of 4% in 2019.
- Meanwhile, offline spending did not grow at all, instead going down 27%. It is forecast to grow 18% this year, so there will be some recovery, while online spending is actually expected to decrease 8.5%, possibly as many of us rejoice in being able to go to physical stores once more.
So whether you’ve got most of your prezzies in a shiny, inviting pile under the tree already, or you know you’re going to be scrambling to get everything wrapped and sent in time, why not take a look at our unique selection of fantastically funny Christmas cards and festive gifts?