A WhatsApp community following 16 shoppers Christmas journeys

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Mariah’s a real foodie, describes herself as fun, bubbly, open minded and a “blast in a glass”. She loves salsa dancing. Although she loves the idea of doing a big Christmas shop and getting “seduced into buying” random treats but she also often makes comments about the hellish nature of crowded shops so does like doing online shopping too.


Vicki loves cooking and photography and lives with her husband. She tries to have an “ish-active” lifestyle but is often knackered after work and just watches TV. She shops at tons of different supermarkets but mostly Tesco’s just for convenience.

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From Yorkshire but currently lives in London and will be ferrying between the two this Christmas. She’s outgoing and loud, an avid reader (an “encyclopedia”) and loves podcasts. Grace loves to bake and eat out, she also adores dogs and looks after other people’s dogs while she’s in London. Her boyfriend’s on a boring, strict diet but they like to eat together on weekends.


Michelle would describe herself as bubbly, chatty and loves to travel, cook and read. She lives in Edinburgh with her husband and has a young niece and nephew. Michelle seems to buy into Christmas experiences such as the Christmas markets and the food festival!

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He has a 6 year old boy and a 2 year old girl who is just learning to speak. His daughter has just started to string some sentences together which he’s really excited about. He usually shops at Tesco’s but also pops into his Sainsbury’s local near the stations.


George has 2 kids, one aged 4 and one aged 2. They take up a lot of his time now but he does love to socialise with his mates and his wife is an air hostess and they used to travel a lot together before. His friends would describe him as competitive, outgoing and thoughtful. He would eat curries and dominos all day if he could and loves good wine.

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Mum to 3 kids, all under 3! Her friends would describe her as forgetful and kind – she tries to look after everybody and is a carer for her Grandad too. She rarely has any spare time but when she does she loves to read love stories and magazines.


Angela is a self-employed mum of two who loves TV – she likes nothing better than “an evening on sofa, watching a good series…when the kids allow!”. Her favourite genre is dramas and she’s currently enjoying watching ‘The Walking Dead’. Angela is really looking forward to cooking over the Christmas period as she likes to make food that her friends and family love to eat.

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James is 30 years old and lives with his partner and his 11 year old son. In his spare time, he likes to take his son to watch their local football team (hopefully win)! In the evenings, James enjoys hitting the pub with his friends for a well-deserved pint after work as a labourer. James plans on doing his Christmas shopping at 1am to avoid the “crush” in store!


Lara works part-time in business acquisition for a shipping company. She’s a Gemini and has “two sides to her”, which is why her friends would describe her as bubbly but sensitive. Lara is kept busy by her daughter and twin sons. Lara is aspiring to have a more indulgent Christmas this year and can’t wait to see the smiles on her kids faces when they open some of their gifts!

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Tiago and his family absolutely LOVE Christmas. They’ve already got their tree and decorations up – including their “elf on the shelf” (a family favourite). They are looking forward to going to Winter Wonderland in London and attending their local panto; as well as a special Disney on ice trip – really getting into the festive spirit. Tiago is hosting Christmas this year and has already planned a special big breakfast for all of his guests.


Carole-Anne is a busy mum of two teenagers. The festive period is always full of fun for the family, who celebrate two birthdays and a wedding anniversary in December. All that celebrating quickly adds up! The family saves up in the run up to festive period so that Carole can cook a fabulous Christmas lunch for the extended family that they are hosting on Christmas and Boxing Day.

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Gavin’s friends would describe him as a happy, hardworking, family-orientated plumber. He loves cooking and spends as much time as possible with his children. Gavin and the family are looking forward to having a fun and exciting Christmas. They’re happy to splash out on a few luxury items, but are also on a budget, so he will be looking out for festive bargains!


Margy’s friends would describe her as a “bubbly, chatty and kind individual” who likes to help people. She loves spending her free time with her daughter, friends and her dog. Margy can’t wait for a few festive foodie treats – she’s especially looking forward to a special M&S Christmas pudding! 

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Sue is a self-confessed shop-a-holic who loves fashion! Being an Interior Stylist, Sue is looking forward to using her artistic flair to decorate hers and others houses. Sue’s friends would describe her as a generous person and she can’t wait to buy lots of gifts to treat her friends and family over the Christmas period!


Jacki is a very very VERY busy grandmother to five grandchildren. She likes to garden but her real passion is in the kitchen – Jacki’s an enthusiastic amateur chef who likes to keep up with the latest trends and cook treats for her family. She’s excited to indulge her family and friends this Christmas with her cooking!

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wc 26th November 2018

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“You know it’s Christmas time when Costa get their festive cups out!”

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“I buy in various supermarkets for Christmas, anytime from early November. I like it when they have their alcohol on offer like Baileys”

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“I'm putting my tree up this Friday as I don't only want it up for just a week or so!”

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  • Really getting in to the festive spirit this week, anticipating the fun nostalgic Christmas traditions 

    • Families starting to decorate their homes at the end of November – marking the time they can really get in to the mood

    • Buying matching Christmas pyjamas, dressing pets up in novel Christmas outfits

    • Excited to buy mulled wine, minced pies, nibbles, Baileys

  • Buying remains focussed on gifts at this stage – generally looking out for ideas to buy in the coming weeks

    • Some early purchasing of ‘add-on’ gifts in Sainsbury’s e.g. socks, games

    • Getting early ideas for secret santa, difficult to buy for recipients – but won’t buy these at this stage

  • Beginning to notice some hero lines appearing across retailers – taking a mental note of what to buy

    • Big show stoppers e.g. M&S prosecco pudding, Aldi serrano ham

  • Continue to pick up bits and pieces on offer with their weekly shop – very few big standout deals mentioned from any retailer

    • A sense most things will be on a deal at some point so no urgent rush to buy

    • 25% off clothes and wine driving visitation to Sainsbury’s

    • Some mentions of nectar vouchers driving visits from less frequent Sainsbury’s shoppers

  • Pleasantly surprised to see premium advent calendars in Sainsbury’s – didn’t expect them in Sainsbury’s

    • Have come across in more premium or specialist stores e.g. Boots, John Lewis

    • Price points too high for the majority to consider – £60 is too steep to gift as a pre-Christmas present

      • Beauty and confectionery options considered better VFM

      • Working better when merchandised together in seasonal – more of a planned purchase than spontaneous

    • ‘Thoughtful calendars’ also grabbing people’s attention – able to make it more personalised

  • Noticed much more product in stores this week – a sense the stores feel quite congested

    • An assumption that most stores will do this in the run up to Christmas

    • Could be helpful in later weeks when availability becomes an issue

wc 3rd december 2018

  • A sense that many are still feeling fairly relaxed about Christmas, panic yet to set in

    • The super organised feeling smug, having bought all their gifts and non-perishables at this stage

    • The timing of Christmas this year means that while there are only a couple of working weeks remaining, Christmas Day itself still feels far away due to the weekend just before

    • Shoppers noting there had been less hype around the Christmas ads this year – beyond Iceland no one big stand out, and less of a frenzy around Christmas ads merchandise

    • A shift towards ‘thoughtful gifting’ means shoppers buying less ‘tatt’ and therefore fewer gifts

  • Shoppers starting to shop perishables and store in the freezer – a challenge for Sainsbury’s as stock levels taking a hit this week

    • Shoppers commenting on key items running low e.g. party food, cocktail plinth

    • Although many staff re-stocking on the shop floor, their focus appeared to be elsewhere

  • Customers expect to see all key lines available in store by now, helping mentally check off their list - late introductions risk shoppers shopping elsewhere

    • Key meat joints risk being missed as not easily located in MFP

      • Single-citing on plinth ends confusing and risking shoppers missing key produce lines – some looking for gammon but cannot locate due to it being placed at the end of aisle

      • Furthermore, no mention of turkeys in the aisle – better sign-posting required e.g. ‘coming soon’ or ‘please look in our frozen section’

    • Late introduction of some party food lines and desserts means many have already decided what they will be buying

    • More lines being introduced to party food this week – however, this could be impacting early range perceptions as many have already been ‘eyeing up’ competitor ranges

      • A missed opportunity as many felt to be the more exciting/distinctive e.g. vol au vents, venison bon bons, truffle pies

  • Many noticing the additional shippers in store – while perfect for reminding about easily forgotten items, they are impacting the feel of the wider store experience and detracting from the mission plinths

    • A great reminder of easily forgotten items such as gravy, sauces, etc.

    • Customers largely forgiving as they expect more range in stores at Christmas, but a sense it is a bit early to stock-pile the aisles

    • But very heavily focussed around high traffic areas making it feel congested and detracting from some of the more helpful/inspirational plinths

  • No mentions of products we’re proud of

    • When probed, customers unsure if the products themselves are that appealing – some too distinctive, others too mundane

    • And recommendations from ‘our expert loves’ or ‘top picks’ felt redundant

wc 10th december 2018

  • A noticeable shift in shopper mentality and behaviour this week – appreciating that Christmas is nearing, customers desire to feel more ‘organised’ has intensified

    • Shoppers actively seek out great deals/promotions – want and expect things to grab their attention when shopping

      • “Tesco have 3 for 2 on party food, I stocked up”

  • Much more exchanging of information with friends/family – a need to feel in-the-know

    • Still largely picking up more items as part of their weekly shop…

      • Buying fresh items to freeze – to help feel organised, to spread the cost, or on products they’re concerned about stock levels

    • … but will visit other retailers if there is a really compelling deal on (alcohol deals remain the big motivator)

      • “I heard Asda were doing £5 prosecco so I went to take a look, it isn’t a store I’d usually visit but it got me wondering what other good deals they had available”

      • “Gammons were really cheap in Asda, just over £2”

    • … or if they are looking for a distinct/unique item

      • “I’d heard about these sausage roll wreaths that Waitrose are doing, this would look great and also please the kids”

      • “I heard about this gold prosecco infused Christmas pudding, I can’t remember where it’s but I’ve made it my aim to track it down”

      • “Tesco had a good choice of Christmas themed products… stuffing, they had some sort of sauce with them too so it would look lush on your plate, Christmas pudding cheese, and everything was in festive packaging”

      • “I spotted unicorn tears gin in Asda, I thought you could only buy that on the internet”

  • Largely having done all the main gift buying, on the look out for smaller add-ons, stocking fillers or Secret Santa

    • “I’ve done all the big things, I’m just looking for little bits to bulk out the kids pile”

    • “It was the last day we had with everyone in the office so we did our Secret Santa this week”

  • Many having decorated their homes, are now looking for extras to really ‘complete’ the look

    • Wrapping of presents to put under the tree to make it look more decorative

    • Buying extra decorations for that notch up from last year

      • “It’s hard to resist decorations, I always buy some new things each year so I am always on the look out”

wc 17th december 2018

  • Shoppers utilising this week for any final Christmas preparations e.g. making the final grocery list, last min panic gift buying

    • “We’re catering for 10 people this year, everyone will chip in some money so I’ve made a spreadsheet to make sure I get everything that everyone wants”

    • “I’ll be running to the shops to get some chocolate or wine for the kids’ teachers”

  • A key week for celebrations – colleague drinks, Friendsmas, second Christmas

    • “Every year we book a table somewhere in London where about 20 of us all go for Christmas lunch, we’ve done Secret Santa this year which will be fun”

    • “My sons are older now so they’re spending Christmas with their wives’ families so we’re doing a fake family Christmas beforehand where we’ll all get together, have dinner and exchange gifts”

  • Shoppers really ramping up the grocery shop this week, many leaving it until the end of this week to do their fresh shop

    • Leaving it until as late as possible to ensure shelf-life of products guaranteed to last ‘see them through’ – seen to be the final shop, most anticipating they will only need to do top ups from now until New Year

    • For those that can do their fresh shop on Friday, seen as a key day to do so – many avoiding the anticipated madness of the weekend rush

    • Buying produce as close to Christmas Day itself, many really inspecting and scrutinising items – picking up from the back to get the best use-by date


wc 24th december 2018

  • Many avoiding going grocery shopping this week – most planning ahead, having done their shop the week earlier; the focus this week is on creating memories

    • “I will run out to get bread and milk this week but beyond that I really don’t want to step foot in a shop”

    • “If I do any shopping this week it will be from the comfort of my sofa, to look at the Boxing Day sales! I’ve spent weeks thinking about shopping so it’s time for me to chill”

  • Shoppers looking for immersive experiences to really make this a Christmas to remember – fun for all to enjoy

    • Novel outfits a key focus – pyjamas, festive jumpers/t-shirts, festive looks for pets

    • Games an important part of the coming days – many buying new games each year to play with family and friends, and looking forward to playing the old favourites too

  • For Christmas Day, the big focus is on the food – cherishing long-standing traditions to ensure that all remain happy

    • “We had turkey this year, I wouldn’t think of doing anything different, sticking with what I know the kids love is the most important”

    • “I’m going to my boyfriends for the first time this year, they don’t do prawn cocktail for starters which I’m really going to miss as my mum always makes this for us”

  • New-ness sought on less traditional days, such as Boxing Day and NYE

    • “We always have a buffet on Boxing Day, I love looking out for the new cheeses they do each year”