It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As Christmas approaches, the Toolbox marketing team takes a look at the upcoming festive season

In a bid to gain valuable insights as to what Christmas 2021 means to consumers, following a very deflating and lack-lustre Christmas 2020 due to Covid-19, the Toolbox marketing team of retail marketing experts carried out consumer research on Junemas (25th June 2021) discussing and predicting what Christmas 2021 might mean for retail, leisure and dining places up and down the UK.

At the midway point to Christmas, the pandemic restrictions that have been crippling the UK retail and leisure property markets are easing. Nationwide footfall is down on where it stood in 2019, and online sales have started to fall. Christmas still feels like far from a guarantee, as the spread of Covid-19 refuses to relent, with restrictions threatening to persist in the months ahead. So how should retail destinations plan for the impeding festive season?  

“Christmas 2020 was low-key with lack of magic caused by the pandemic,” says Chloe Keith, Toolbox’s managing director. “Christmas 2021 is going to be back, bigger and better, creating memories and that is why it will mean so much this year – families and friends missed out on that festive feeling and Christmas traditions. 

“Previous Christmases have been typically full of Santa grottos, festive markets, light switch-ons and celebrity appearances. Welcome to Christmas 2021, maybe a ‘normal’ Christmas, maybe not – but what is normal now anyway?! We’re excited to see clients and customers fall in love with Christmas all over again delivering a Christmas that balances offline with online, that is really relevant to our people, places and spaces.”

Toolbox’s consumer research came up with a lot of predictions for this year, notably that consumer confidence is unwavering around the big day, with 79% of survey respondents indicating that they are excited for Christmas 2021. 

Among the biggest trends was the call for a more traditional Christmas, with 87.5% of respondents anticipating Christmas will be celebrated ‘like we used to’. Other items on the Christmas list include sustainable gifting, locally sourced products,  community driven spending, the return of the Christmas market, and most importantly in-person family experiences such as elf schools, toy testing and Santa letter writing experiences.

On how to approach marketing in the run up to the historically busy period, Kim Dodd, Toolbox account director, says the key this year will be to believe in the magic of Christmas. Failing that? “If magic doesn’t work we suggest always having a plan A and plan B,” she advises. “We’ve seen how quickly things can change so it’s essential to be prepared. If you have, for example, a Santa’s Grotto planned, ensure you have a digital alternative if we do ever find ourselves in another national lockdown.”

Keith adds: “Christmas 2021 will be the year where consumers discover the real meaning of Christmas. Family, friends, local and community will be at the heart of everything our customers want.”

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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