Some trouble at North Pole?

Claire O’Rourke on Irish consumers’ awareness of supply chain issues in the run up to Christmas. How does in store compare with online?

As we head into the second Christmas of the pandemic, life is somewhat less disrupted by Covid-19, but we are seeing  the impact on global supply chains. Retailers started warning early in autumn that this might mean disruption for Christmas stock and shopping, but we wanted to see whether the message had begun to permeate the conscience of consumers.

The survey of 1,000 adults, carried out in October, found that nearly half of them had already started Christmas shopping this year with children’s presents being the most popular early items. Shrugging off the stereotypes, older people (aged 55+) were less likely to have already begun their Christmas shopping, with those aged 35-44 years most likely to have begun.

Looking to Christmas stock, a quarter of people expect there to be no difference in what is available in the shops this year – rising to two in five people aged under 35. This trend is evident even though two thirds of people have already noticed supply chain issues through noticing a lack of stock on retail shelves or things taking longer to arrive when ordered online.

With Black Friday sales now in full swing, people are planning on doing just under half their Christmas shopping online (46 per cent) and just over half in store (54 per cent), but this varies with age. Older adults are more likely to say that they will shop in store this year, with 28 per cent of those aged 55+ planning on doing less online than last year.

When asked about behaviour change in case of supply chain issues,  just over three quarters (77 per cent) say that they are not planning on changing their behaviour. It means that many people may get caught out this Christmas.

What does this mean? 

Although there is awareness of the impact of global supply chain disruption on stock in Ireland, many people do not plan on changing their behaviour. Younger adults appear less aware of supply chain and stock issues which means they could get caught out in the lead up to Christmas. However, a high proportion of under 35s have noticed delivery delays online.

So, they plan on ordering online earlier than usual. Looking at how people are planning on shopping this year, under 35s are likely to do a higher proportion of their shopping online, with those aged 55+ hoping to do most of their shopping in-store. Depending on Covid-19 levels and restrictions, older adults are returning to in-store shopping and plan to do less online.

When looking at online retailers, Amazon tops the list, ahead of online Irish sites. However, consumers are being reminded to check the fine print on delivery information as online shopping may not always arrive in time for Christmas Day. Report by Claire O’Rourke, who is senior research lead at Dentsu Consult;


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