As retailers gear up for the festive period, what will tempt consumers to open their wallets and upgrade their festive staples?


Shoppers are likely to be more discerning in their spending and on the hunt for what they perceive to be real value for money. Read on for our predictions of what Christmas shoppers will be seeking this golden quarter.Convincing consumers to part with their cash this Christmas will be no easy task for retailers, as sentiment is subdued and political uncertainty remains.

Trading up

Gone are the days when a tiny piece of chocolate behind a door or a plastic thimble in a cracker would keep consumers happy. If shoppers are going to spend their money this Christmas, then they want something better to show for it.

This year consumers are seeking more bang for their buck when it comes to classic festive staples – crackers included. 

Luxury brands – from department store Selfridges, to cult beauty label Jo Malone and five-star hotel Claridge’s – already offer more upmarket alternatives, but with the hefty price tag (Claridge’s crackers, containing gifts such as a mother of pearl caviar spoon, cost £75 for six) they don’t appeal to the masses.

The likes of Swarovski, Cath Kidston, and Fever-Tree drinks have also created novelty crackers with their products inside, but many retailers have yet to take advantage of the gap in the market for useful, desirable trinkets rather than the typical cheap fare.

Hotel Chocolat has hit the nail on the head with its chocolate-filled twist on the traditional cracker and, at £17 for 10, they measure up well on a standard box and offer a satisfyingly sweet alternative to a plastic comb – all with less waste guaranteed.

Chocolate advent calendars, however, are a bit old hat. From beauty products to jewellery, beer and candles – just about anything comes in advent calendar form in 2019.

“Chocolate advent calendars are a bit old hat. From beauty products to jewellery, beer and candles – just about anything comes in advent calendar form in 2019”

Department stores have taken note, launching advent calendars from their beauty, jewellery or even food ranges. Selfridges, for example, releases its first mince pie advent calendar this year, featuring 24 different flavours of the festive treat along with a slice of fruitcake for the big day.

One advent calendar that has garnered annual queues down Carnaby Street is Liberty’s beauty offering. This year was no different and to keep up with demand the department store ordered 50% more stock, 80% of which was allocated to online sales.

Filled with £610 worth of luxury beauty products for £215, shoppers queued outside the London flagship from 6.15am on October 16 to get their hands on one despite the price tag.

A lower-cost option that also flew off the shelves was Boots’ No 7 offering. The beauty calendar had a waiting list of 226,000 from as early as August in the lead up to its launch on October 24 and sold out within hours.

The trend for non-chocolate advent calendars doesn’t seem to be slowing down (see last year’s Ilchester cheese advent calendar) so there’s still space for new innovations.

Minimising waste

Overindulgence at Christmas equals a lot of plastic waste, most of which goes straight to landfill.

In a bid to be eco-friendly, the classic glitter-covered fare, such as wrapping paper, cards and crackers, have been replaced with recycled and recyclable paper options.

Waitrose and John Lewis have pledged to remove glitter entirely from their Christmas products for 2020, as well as replacing single-use plastic toys in crackers with metal or wooden ones.

With sustainability becoming an increasing concern, tinsel’s place on the Christmas tree has also been revoked in favour of plastic-free alternatives such as strings of beads, ribbons or paperchains. Green is definitely the colour of the season this year.

“Waitrose and John Lewis have pledged to remove glitter entirely from their Christmas products for 2020, as well as replacing single-use plastic toys in crackers with metal or wooden ones”

Eco-conscious retailer Lush has even removed the packaging from its alternative tree decorations – festive figures such as Father Christmas and a snowman can hang on the tree in bath bomb form.

For gifts and toys, shoppers are also more likely to favour sustainable brands without unnecessary packaging.

Lush’s various gift sets are presented in tins, printed cardboard boxes or covered in fabric wraps – all of which can be repurposed to decorate the home.

Journey of discovery

The move from chocolate advent calendars to those with a variety of different products behind each door, including make-up, candles or bottles of alcohol, represents how consumers in 2019 desire a journey of discovery.

Retailers from Glossybox, to John Lewis and Amazon have created sought-after beauty calendars with bright, festive packaging and the promise of exciting contents from a variety of different brands.

The beauty products inside are often those customers wouldn’t have otherwise come across and are often in miniature form – therefore creating future purchase opportunities for full-size versions.

Similarly, brands such as L’Occitane, Yankee Candle and Lego also produce advent calendars that keep consumers guessing, offering 24 mini branded treats in the run up the big day.

Tree decorations are also seeing a renewed creative flair, as John Lewis’ Christmas 2019 trends reveal themes from icy white and blue, to cosy brown tones, to neon and rainbows – all colour schemes that break from traditional red and gold.

Picking up on trends such as millennial pink or, the predicted ‘it’ colour for this Christmas, blue, consumers are reinventing the Christmas spirit.

Like crackers and advent calendars, there’s also the potential for gift-filled baubles – Clinique and Too Faced, for example, offer beauty-filled ones – representing another way consumers are seeking novelty.

Christmas 2019 is not just about the presents under the tree: as consumers desire discovery, luxury and excitement, all with a sustainable ethos, innovative, gift-based decorations from table to tree will be on this year’s list.