Research - 14.12.2011 - 00:00 

Spending less money on presents

Shopping tourism has put the Swiss retail trade under pressure. The Institute of Retail Management (IRM-HSG) interviewed 1,000 shoppers in pedestrian precincts in German- and French-speaking Switzerland.
Source: HSG Newsroom


14 December 2011. HSG researcher Maximilian Weber and Prof. Dr. Thomas Rudolph examined how much money people would like to invest in their Christmas presents in 2011, what the products on the wish list are, and where the presents are purchased. The Institute of Retail Management of the University of St.Gallen (IRM-HSG) interviewed 1,000 shoppers in pedestrian precincts in German- and French-speaking Switzerland.

Spending less money on Christmas presents

Consumers are planning to reduce their expenses on Christmas presents. Whereas last year, consumers indicated that they would spend an average of 649 Swiss francs on presents, they intend to save some money this year and cut their expenses to 598 francs. Although in absolute terms, people spend more on Christmas presents with increasing age, the savings of approx. 8% in comparison with last year pervaded all age groups and both genders.

Changing Christmas wishes

This year’s most popular Christmas wishes are travelling and mobility (27%), books (23.5%), as well as clothing and shoes (23.2%). In comparison with the previous year, consumers’ predilections have changed a great deal. The greatest increase can be registered in consumer electronics. Whereas last year, 14.7% of consumers wished to be given consumer electronics for Christmas, they amount to just under 22% this year. The HSG researchers trace this back, among other things, to the growing number of new products launched by manufacturers and the increasing popularity of tablet computers and smart phones. Whereas mobility (+3.8%) and jewellery (+1.9%) proved very popular with Christmas shoppers, interest in sports articles (-3.5%), admission tickets (-3.2%) and clothing (-2.5%) registered a slight decrease in comparison with last year.

Customer inspiration for new requirements
“The results illustrate the fact that the proportion of consumers who don’t know what they want for Christmas has almost doubled in comparison with last year (7.8%)”, says Weber, one of the authors of the study. It was also noticeable that Christmas wishes became less specific with increasing age. Probably, older consumers find they already have everything they want. So far, however, the retail trade has only been able to generate new requirements by inspiring its customers in a rudimentary fashion. “The 5th St.Gallen Retail Day on St.Gallen’s OLMA premises on13 March 2012 will therefore deal with the issue of customer inspiration”, says Weber.

Three-digit growth rates in online trade
The survey also showed that consumers preferred to buy their Christmas presents in shopping centres (53.4%) and city centres (53.1%). In comparison with last year, however, the purchasing locations have become less important. Thus in 2010, 67.9% still indicated that they did their Christmas shopping in stationary retail outlets. However, three-digit growth rates are being enjoyed by internet trade. Whereas in the previous year, 16.6% of consumers indicated that they preferred to buy their Christmas presents online, 37.9% intend to do their Christmas shopping online this year.

The complete study is available free of charge from Maximilian Weber. Please state your name, position and organisation.

Photo: Photocase / The Listen-To-It Network