New research with parents on the topic of Christmas shopping shows that behaviours have undergone some significant changes since COVID. We carried out research asking parents to share their views on how COVID has changed (or not) their shopping behaviours and how they have been planning and buying in the run up to the big day. This begs the question, should the Late Late Toy Show move earlier to help Santa’s Elves?
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Key Christmas shopping trends amongst parents
Parents gave their thoughts and feedback on a range of shopping related questions in surveys run on www.mykidstime.com with over 800 total responses from Irish parents. We asked them about when they buy for Christmas, where they buy, how they feel about buying from Irish websites now that Brexit is here, and what they plan to do for Christmas 2021.
When it comes to Christmas and parents, the biggest trend to come out of the research is that the main planning and spending for Christmas has shifted from November/December to as early as September. Parents don’t want to risk leaving it too late and not being able to source the gifts they want in time for Christmas Day.
“Most people I know are looking to finish their Christmas Shopping in the next 2 or 3 weeks including me (October 2021). I know quite a few that have big items bought as they were low in stock. I think it’s difficult for Irish stores this year with the delays in deliveries. I’ll buy locally as much as is possible but the cheaper option on bigger buys has been online for me this year.”
“I have the main toys already bought to make sure that whatever else happens Santa will be visiting our house this year!”
Here are some of those key trends that came out of the feedback:
When asked “When do you usually start buying for Christmas?” 22% of parents said they did most of their buying in September, 22% in October and 18% in November. Almost three quarters (73%) of parents said they intended to buy toys earlier with 58% saying gifts would be bought earlier this year.
“I start making lists after summer or earlier if I see something or know what kids are getting. Will start buying if I know what the kids want and know they won’t change their minds. Will order in August or September to be in time for Christmas.”
“I start picking up bits after the back to school stuff is all taken care of and when I have a good idea of what the kids will be looking for.”
“I want to get presents bought ASAP, as we don’t know what way the country will be in the coming weeks or if we will be sick or isolating ourselves.”
Recommended reading: Parents are Keen to Spend Time not Money this Christmas
More conscious consumerism
There has also been a shift towards more conscious ‘consumerism’. Many parents articulated that they have realised they don’t need to buy as many things for the family to be happy, with half of parents saying they will spend more thoughtfully as a result of COVID. With parents buying less, this does mean there is a move to buying earlier to ensure the key presents are available.
“We’re looking forward to simplifying Christmas this year. We buy extra for our younger two children most years and put the excess away until their February birthdays.”
“Keeping it simple. It’s a time to re-evaluate Christmas and stop getting caught up in the presents side of it!”
A more planned approach
Parents also said since COVID they would browse a bit less and have a more planned approach to shopping. With less in-store shopping and more conscious consumerism, they’re making their lists and checking them twice!
“I will make a list and be more focused on what I need, quality over quantity, and I won’t be waiting for Black Friday sales.”
Recommended reading: Bite-Sized Insights: Christmas Toys and Gifts
Move to online
The pandemic has also brought about a shift in how parents buy, with 70% of parents saying they will do a mix of in-store and online shopping with only 10% saying they would do all of their shopping in-store. Many parents said they were availing of Click & Collect options.
“Trying to get ahead in case online deliveries are delayed nearer the time. I’m trying to support Irish and local where possible.”
Fears about supply
For parents of Santa age children and also those with teens buying e.g. smart tech/devices, fears about supply following BREXIT plus global supply chain squeezes has shifted buying earlier as well.
“Last year we focused on buying Irish and will try to keep some of our gifts Irish-made this year. Will not be leaving it until December though, in case of supply issues.”
“I have started buying a lot earlier, especially as the kids get older and want specific toys.”
Recommended reading: [INFOGRAPHIC] Christmas Planning Insights from Parents
A shift to less spend
While 42% said they plan to spend as much as before, just over a quarter (26%) of parents said they intend to buy less with 11% saying they want to spend time rather than cash and 11% saying they want to go more “green” with what they buy.
“I save throughout the year for Christmas as they ask for a random surprise gift from Santa and all the smaller gifts are picked up throughout the year when there are sales etc.”
Top Toy Brands & Retailers
When asked what toy brands they plan on buying this year, these were the top 10 mentioned by parents:
- Fisher Price
- Hot Wheels
- Leap Frog
When it comes to buying toys for their own child and as presents for other children, 67% of parents said they bought from a toy retailer, 22% from a general retailer, while 11% prefer to give a voucher or cash.
The top retailers that Irish parents prefer for buying children’s toys and gifts for the Christmas season are:
- Smyths Website
- Smyths In-Store
- Tesco In-Store
- Local Toy Retailer
- Other Online Retailer
- Eason Website
- Eason In-Store
- Tesco Website
Download our Free Insights Report on Parents and Toys and Christmas here.
So Should the Late Late Toy Show Move Earlier?
We suggest there should be a dedicated September Late Late Toy Show toy & gift showcase programme for Irish businesses that can potentially help parents and kids see the range of products available earlier and so that it fits more with the earlier timing of when parents are buying now.
The end November Late Late Toy Show is a national and international family fixture but it’s too late for when parents buy, so it could be focused completely on the entertainment and feel-good stories, and to continue to raise money for charities.
For Irish retailers planning for 2022, being aware of the fact that parents are researching potentially from summer onwards and buying after school starts, to communicate their ranges earlier is going to be important.
As online will continue to be a strong channel, Irish companies need to ensure their online presence is the best it can be and that their stock levels are up to date from late summer onwards, with an emphasis on delivery dates to reassure that parents will have everything they need in time for Christmas.
We were surprised to see from our research how early parents are buying now for Christmas. COVID has brought new trends to Christmas planning, from spreading the cost to fears over supply. With a bit of careful planning there’s a huge opportunity for Irish businesses and brands to capitalise on earlier sales from this key shopping demographic. And hopefully the Late Late Toy Show will double up next year with an earlier showcase to help Santa’s elves!
Media coverage of these insights
- “Parents call for massive change to Late Late Toy Show”, Extra.ie
- “Parents plead for Toy Show to be aired in September next year”, Evoke.ie
- “Parents all saying the same thing about what they want RTE to do with next year’s Late Late Toy show schedule”, Irish Sun
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