Christmas shopper trends: what we learned in 2019

by: Katherine Savage

While Christmas 2019 might be done and dusted, there are some important learnings to be drawn from shopper behaviour at the end of the last decade. Here are the six biggest insights from the consumers we spoke to.


1. Planning ahead or last minute panic?

  • Aussies were well ahead in their Christmas planning and shopping at the beginning of December. 13 percent had already finished their Christmas shopping (how keen!), and only 26 percent hadn’t started.
    • On average, shoppers had already spent about half of their budget by the start of December.
  • But there were plenty of people leaving things to the last minute. By the 23rd December, only 43 percent had completed their shopping and 12 percent still hadn’t started!
    • Women are more likely to have finished by the 23rd December: 54 percent compared with 40 percent of men.
    • On average, shoppers spent 69 percent of their budget by the 23rd December.

2. The power of retailers.

  • 1 in 3 consumers we spoke to created a specific gifting list for Christmas, noting what they intend to buy for specific people.
  • Others looked for inspiration from retailers: 40 percent were most likely to be buying interesting-looking gifts with no particular recipient in mind (seems dangerous to us!), while 28 percent went to the stores to find the best gifts for certain people.
  • 30 percent were participating in a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa, mainly at work, with an average budget of $15-$20. Retailers are well positioned to help shoppers with great ideas at specific price points, especially for those tricky-to-buy-for colleagues and family members (we’ve all been there).

3. Tightening wallets (in theory at least!).

  • In the run-up to Christmas, a third of shoppers were planning to spend less money on Christmas presents compared to the year before.
  • Only 19 percent planned to spend more.
  • Proving once again that Millennials can’t be treated as a monolith: 28 percent of Millennials, perhaps feeling a little more flush in 2019, or with growing families, planned to spend more on Christmas presents in 2019. 34 percent were looking to reduce their spend.
Christmas shopping budgets

4. Christmas Day celebrations are still a thing.

  • 97 percent of the consumers we spoke to had plans for Christmas Day, either hosting a celebration (35 percent) or being a guest at someone else’s meal, BBQ or party (51 percent).
  • 15 percent of Millennials got away for Christmas.
  • 81 percent of consumers celebrated with family, 38 percent with a partner, and 25 percent with friends.
  • Despite the trend towards plant-free food in 2019, meat still plays a big part in holiday celebrations: 49 percent were excited to eat ham, 46 percent prawns or seafood and 40 percent were keen to dig into some turkey or another roast.
  • For dessert, pavlovas (34 percent) beat out Christmas Pudding (28 percent) and mince pies (17 percent).
  • As you might expect, many were looking forward to having a drink this festive season! On average 36 percent were excited to have wine, 32 percent beer (not surprisingly,  this increased to 46 percent amongst men), 26 percent champagne, 23 percent liquor and 18 percent wanted to sip on cocktails. But non-alcoholic drinks were also part of the mix. 34 percent were looking forward to soft drinks and 31 percent were opting for coffee or tea.
Christmas feast

5. And, of course, the inescapable New Year’s resolutions. 

  • 90 percent have set themselves resolutions for 2020, with a mix of health, money, and happiness topics.
  • Improving personal health is one of the main subjects of resolutions: 47 percent want to eat healthier, 40 percent want to diet to lose weight, and 40 percent also want to exercise to get in shape. 14 percent want to drink less alcohol and 6 percent want to quit smoking.
  • Money, money, money is on the minds of many: 42 percent want to save money, 23 percent want to get a job or change jobs.
  • Relaxing or being happier is also important: 40 percent want to take a trip or travel, 27 percent plan to focus on self-care, and 21 percent want to spend more time with family and friends.
  • Some are looking to become more well-rounded: 21 percent are planning for personal development, 19 percent want to learn a new skill, 14 percent want to read more, and 12 percent are looking to help others or volunteer.
  • 11 percent want to find love (awwww!).
  • Those not setting resolutions are happy the way they are (39 percent) or want to be spontaneous (27 percent).

New Year's resolutions

6. Hopeful or cynical: what’s the chance of success?

  • Some resolutions are considered easier than others. Volunteering, spending more time with friends and family, travelling and reading more are the most easy to achieve, but other resolutions have been made despite being considered very difficult to achieve.
  • 92 percent of those looking for love think it will be difficult to find - let’s hope not!
  • Self-discipline seems to be something people think they will struggle with: 85 percent think quitting smoking will be difficult; 62 percent worry they won’t be able to save money; and exercising to get in shape is considered difficult by 61 percent. Interestingly, 68 percent think dieting to lose weight will be a challenge and women in particular agree (82 percent). Can brands and retailers help consumers achieve their goals in these areas?
  • 48 percent see themselves keeping their resolutions for less than six months but 35 percent believe they will maintain them for at least a year, if not more


How to take last year's learnings into 2020.

If you're looking to make it onto your shopper's list this year, our researchers rival Santa himself when it comes to knowing what your buyers want year-round. 

Want to know more about driving growth in your market this year? We unveil 7 secrets to brand marketing that every marketer needs to know below.


Get in touch on 02 8097 0200, email or simply click the big orange enquiry button to the right! 


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about the author

Katherine Savage

Katherine is PLAY’s account director and resident packaging expert. She started life as a qualitative specialist before becoming a qual-quant researcher. Her 12 years of experience spans across FMCG, retail, tech, media, financial, auto, social, employer, and B2B: she loves diving into new categories and exploring the forces at play. She’s a fan of setting herself arbitrary goals and trying to complete them like translating the first Harry Potter novel from Portuguese (she hasn’t got to Hogwarts – yet!).

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