Retail experts are calling on the public to start their Christmas shopping earlier than normal this year to help spread demand during the peak shopping season.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has announced a new national campaign urging the public to get cracking on the present buying to help reduce last-minute demand for items in the final weeks of November and December.
Though we might not usually think about starting our Christmas shopping in October, this year our festive plans have been somewhat thrown into turmoil thanks to changes in restrictions about the number of people that can attend social gatherings, although it is not yet known what restrictions will be in place in December.
“Whilst celebrations will no doubt be a little different this year, we know customers want to keep Christmas special,” explains Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people to shop early and prevent the last minute rush so their fellow customers and all the store colleagues, warehouse workers and delivery drivers working behind the scenes, have the space they need to stay safe and well.”
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The BRC stated out that retailers have been strengthening their supply chains since March, putting in place additional safety and hygiene measures across their stores and online operations.
“BRC’s September sales figures show signs some customers have already started a little earlier than usual, as spreading your Christmas shopping has many benefits in today’s climate – from safety to managing finances,” added Dickinson.
“However, we want more people to embrace the true Christmas spirit, think of others and ‘Shop Early, Start Wrapping’ and most of all Enjoy Christmas – however they are celebrating.”
The campaign launch comes as Oxford Street announced it would be switching on its Christmas lights earlier this year, on Monday 2 November, according to the Retail Gazette.
The date is about three weeks earlier than in 2019, when the lights were turned on from 21 November.
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According to Sabrina Benjamin, retail expert and founder of booking tool Q Manager, coronavirus and the resultant impact on sales has meant retailers are more keen than ever to encourage shoppers to get cracking on their Christmas shopping.
“Every year consumers fall trap to the last minute Christmas rush, however things have changed,” she explained. “Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the customers’ ability to ‘get up and go’ is now limited by many factors beyond their control.”
Benjamin sites the rule of six or the possibility of being asked to self-isolate for a period of time, as just a couple of those uncontrollable factors.
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“Additionally in London, there have been many road closures as a direct result of the pandemic creating further restrictions to be mobile/travel,”