What you need to know

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on consumer confidence has been significant, with consumers fearing the future impact it will have on household income and the UK economy. This report covers the major shopping events in the autumn and winter season, and since most the spending related to these events is essentially discretionary, this hit to consumer confidence will lead to subdued spending in 2020. If there is a lingering consumer concern about the risk of being exposed to COVID-19 at social gatherings then this, too, will affect the level of spending.

Looking back to pre-COVID-19, consumer confidence towards the end of 2019 had held up well with the vast majority of people feeling they would be OK, financially, in the year to come. This was reflected in the continued growth of spending on some seasonal events during the autumn and winter months. In 2019/20 spending on Autumn/Winter events totalled an estimated £3.5 billion, with Valentine’s Day driving much of this growth, although Back-to-School and Bonfire Night saw declines in consumer spending.

Halloween continued to grow, driven by increased consumer spending on in-home food/drink and fancy dress. Young adults are the keenest Halloween shoppers, and the event is no longer just an event for children to go trick or treating.

Bonfire Night was impacted by cold and windy weather which dampened the festive spirit and spending on the event. Fireworks saw a notable decline in consumer spending this year, although going to firework displays remained a popular way of celebrating Bonfire Night. Concerns around the safety of fireworks still persisted amongst consumers – most notably among the elderly.

Back-to-School saw spending declines in uniform and shoes, while bags and sportswear grew aligning with trends from the wider clothing and fashion accessories industry. As marked by the overall decline in the Back-to-School market, parents also cut back on non-essentials for the new term in 2019.

Valentine’s Day grew the most and was driven by an increase in spending on items like watches and jewellery and beauty and fragrances.

Key issues covered in the Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer confidence.

  • Key consumer behaviours influenced by COVID-19.

  • The impact of COVID-19 on seasonal events in the short, medium and long term.

  • How retailers can capture spend on in-home seasonal food and drink.

  • How retailers can tap into the eco-conscious consumer during seasonal events.

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