UK Holiday Season Shopping 2020

Shoppers’ Budgets Get Squeezed and Shifted

About This Report
This will be a tough year for holiday season retail in the UK. Shoppers will spend less in 2020, and much of their spend will fall outside the traditional November–December time frame, leading to the lowest holiday retail sales total since 2015.

Executive Summary

Last year, we thought Brexit concerns would weigh heavily on UK consumers’ minds for the 2020 holiday season. But now, it’s the pandemic that has captured consumers’ attention, reshaping shopper habits and causing an overall decline in our holiday sales forecast.

How much will shoppers spend during the holiday season in the UK?

UK shoppers will spend £88.54 billion ($113.01 billion) during November and December this year. That will mark a 10.2% fall from the previous year, representing the lowest holiday retail total since 2015.

How has the pandemic affected our ecommerce forecast?

Digital shopping habits forged during the lockdown look set to continue into the final two months of the year. Retail ecommerce sales in the UK will rise by 16.7% this holiday season to £28.51 billion ($36.38 billion), accounting for 32.2% of total UK holiday sales.

How has the pandemic affected our brick-and-mortar forecast?

Physical retailers have faced near-insurmountable barriers this year. No surprise, then, to see our forecast for brick-and-mortar holiday season sales fall significantly, by 19.0% to £60.04 billion ($76.63 billion). An acceleration in the number of store closures, continued in-store restrictions, and the cautious consumer are all contributing to this challenging environment.

What other impacts has the pandemic had on holiday shopping trends?

Uncertainty around the economy and personal finances has led many UK consumers to get ahead of the game and do some of their holiday shopping early. This year’s late-falling Amazon Prime Day (October 13–14) provided extra impetus to this trend.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report outlines our latest forecast for holiday season retail sales in the UK, concentrating on the transformative effects the pandemic has had on shopping habits.

KEY STAT: Holiday season retail sales in the UK will tumble by 10.2% this year to the lowest seasonal total—£88.54 billion ($113.01 billion)—since 2015.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Seasonal Shopping Set to Suffer This Year
  3. Retail Ecommerce Will Be More Important than Ever
  1. The Pandemic Is Pulling Sales Earlier
  2. Key Takeaways
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

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Bill Fisher


Angela Kim
Senior Researcher
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Peter Newman
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Karin von Abrams
Principal Analyst

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