Christmas 2020 was different for many.

I still remember standing in the queue for Marks & Spencer’s (getting a special pudding for the coming weekend as you do) and hearing from the person behind me in the queue that the UK government had imposed lockdown again in Kent to tackle the rising R number and that it was likely to stay over the Christmas period. This lockdown meant no social meetings indoors or outdoors with anyone you do not live with.

Suddenly the queue was buzzing with individuals trying to re-plan their Christmas. Conversations about how they had purchased a turkey that would feed 10 and whether they should try to return it for a smaller one, conversations about how they would split themselves so that elderly grandparents could stay protected in their bubble but also not be on their own for Christmas. Everything was up in the air again.

Whilst we would like to say that lockdowns are a thing of the past, I think that the constant changes over the past 18 months make that an impossible thing for us to do. So that leads us to Christmas this year, what is it going to be like?

Christmas 2021 is definitely not set in stone, however, there are two themes that we can see emerging as we head into the Christmas countdown. They are ‘flexibility’ and ‘getting ahead'.


This year it's clear that families are going to be looking for flexibility with their Christmas plans. Whilst there is some optimism that Christmas can go ahead as ‘normal’, individuals will be likely to also be pre-planning for smaller Christmases than before in order to ensure that they have the Christmas they want to have whatever happens.

What does this mean for businesses?

If you are a business in the hospitality industry you may find that individuals book dinners and hotel stays for the Christmas period, but are more likely to book with you if you offer what is now commonly referred to as a ‘Covid Promise’.

This Covid promise assures them that if they have to move their booking due to lockdown etc that there are no repercussions for them. They can move their booking to the next available date with any deposits either moved along or refunded as applicable.

Whilst this isn’t a possibility for all businesses, if your business can offer such a promise then you should include this in your promotional material. Highlighting this promise to your customers to reassure them and give them the confidence that they need to make bookings this Christmas.

If you are a business in the food industry, then you may find that individuals are hesitant to sign up for larger volumes of food items if they believe there is the possibility that they are going to have another small Christmas.

Giving reassurance on stock levels, allowing individuals to reserve items ahead of their visit to your store so they know they are going to be getting their main items such as a turkey. But at the same time not expecting individuals to reserve quite so far ahead as they would have done before Covid-19 was a thing.

Whatever industry you are in, including hospitality and food, this flexibility that is being sought out by individuals this Christmas does also have the ability to help your business.

With individuals wanting to see their loved ones and enjoy their lives again, people are more likely to break normal traditions and go a little crazier with their Christmas plans. Individuals who previously would have just had Christmas dinner at home are now more likely to book Pantomime tickets, attend a Christmas-specific event, and stay away from home in a luxury hotel as they see family who live apart from them. Anything that has the ability to brighten up their year.

If you are a business that can brighten up their Christmas, then your promotional activities should communicate this. Whilst no one wants to highlight the potential negatives for Christmas this year, and you certainly should not use your promotional space scaremongering, using simple words like ‘Covid Promise’ allows you to offer reassurance with minimum fuss.

Getting Ahead

One element of Christmas 2020 which was felt by shoppers, in particular, was the inability to get to the shops to purchase the gifts that they wanted to give to their loved ones. As a result of this, and thanks to the recent fuel chaos we have been experiencing, individuals this year are likely to be getting ahead.

Individuals this year are more likely to be purchasing their gifts earlier than normal. This is to ensure that if they are unable to get to the shops in the run-up to Christmas that they have at least the main presents for the kids in the family and the items that they personally see as being synonymous with Christmas.

Individuals are also more likely to be looking for gifts this year that can be delivered straight to the gift recipient

What does this mean for businesses?

If you are a business that typically makes sales in the run-up for Christmas, then I would get ahead and get set up for Christmas sooner rather than later. Giving people the option to put those special gifts away to take the pressure off them, and ultimately off you as well.

With this extra ‘prep’ time, individuals are more likely to shop around to compare pricing. But also, with the drive to buy locally that many are experiencing, it also gives them the time to find new local businesses that they otherwise may not have noticed.

So ensure that your website is easy to use, ensure that your return policy is crystal clear, create gift guides to assist people with their shopping plans, and promote your business to ensure that people know you are open for business.


Christmas 2021 is a question mark at the moment, there is a lot of ‘bad news’ in the papers at the moment and enough for people to worry about. Typically, Christmas is a part of the year where people can find a little bit of magic so whatever happens this year, there will be a Christmas.

As a business why not remind people of this magic, making them forget the drama and focus on making happy memories with their loved ones. We certainly could all do with it.

Published: 5th Oct 2021

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