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The signs are up and the sales are on. The festive sales period is the most decisive time in the calendar for many brands and retailers. But this year, businesses are bracing themselves.

Although the spectre of lockdowns has lifted, consumers are contending with inflation running at near 40-year highs and the soaring cost of living. While rising costs and supply restrictions may change consumer priorities and preferences, NielsenIQ’s latest report – Unwrapping Europeans’ Holiday Outlook – suggests there is still hope for a merry Christmas for retailers and brand manufacturers.

The festive season is special for many UK consumers. Our data shows 54% of Brits admit to being Christmas enthusiasts, for whom emotional aspects such as enjoying the holidays with family and friends is very important. While we may be in a cost of living crisis, many do not want to give up the usual traditions and will still be looking to spoil themselves and their loved ones with gifts and good food. In fact, 63% of UK households expect their Christmas budget to be equal to 2021, with 10% of Brits even planning on increasing their budgets.

This is not to say Brits will not be looking out for a good deal. Our data shows for 42% of UK shoppers, a direct discount on price has the most power to drive a purchase. This is followed by loyalty card discounts (34%) and extra quantity in the same package (30%), highlighting huge opportunities for retailers to maximise special offers, particularly with personalised loyalty card and app offerings where relevant.

Christmas is a time for celebration, and our data shows while 50% of Brits will be looking for special offers and promotions on food items, some are still interested in making premium purchases over Christmas. Top grocery products include premium cheese (37%), fresh meat (37%) and chocolate tablets (37%). In the drinks category, 51% of Brits will opt for premium champagne, while 43% will choose premium high-alcoholic beverages, such as spirits and other forms of liqueur. Thirty-five per cent of Brits will also be looking for gourmet products such as chocolates, sweets and wines to gift friends and family this Christmas.

Only time will tell how Brits truly shop over the festive period, but it seems clear that despite a cost of living crisis and tightened budgets, many consumers do not want to give up on traditions. There are huge opportunities for retailers to maximise festive offers to boost shopper loyalty, and ensure high-demand products and categories are well stocked, with a variety of options that cater for a wide range of budgets and deliver on quality too.