RAC Foundation News - December 2016

Spend, Spend, Spend

– In 2015, an estimated 33.5 million* (73%) adults bought all or some of their Christmas presents online

– Of all the adults that bought presents online:
88% used home delivery to receive some of these goods
26% used click and collect to receive some of their presents

– In 2016, half of adults expect they will do the same amount Christmas shopping online as in 2015
– 1 in 6 think they will buy more online than they did last year
– 1 in 8 believe they will purchase less online

* based on Eurostat population estimates and 95% confidence intervals of +/- 2%, it is estimated that this is the equivalent to 32.5m – 34.3m adults aged 16-75 in Great Britain.


A week ago shoppers were trying to bag a bargain as part of the Black Friday shopping extravaganza. They were at it again at the start of this week as retailers promoted Cyber Monday.

Many of those making a purchase will have done so online. In fact, 71% of British adults say they have shopped via the internet in the past three months.

The RAC Foundation’s interest is less about what people are buying but rather: how are they getting the stuff home?

Van traffic in this country is surging; up 70% over the past 20 years, compared with growth of 17% for all traffic. But how much of this rise is due to deliveries of goods bought via computers and laptops, tablets and mobiles?

The starting point is to better understand the patterns of online retail. An-about-to-be-published survey – commissioned by the RAC Foundation from Ipsos MORI – shows that two in five adults shop online for groceries at least once a month, while more than four in five buy clothing or footwear over the internet.

Most get their goods delivered to them, but click and collect is another popular option. The reasons are straightforward: click and collect allows people to pick up their shopping when they want rather than having to be at home for large parts of the day awaiting the delivery lorry. And that journey to the shop can be combined with other trips people need to make.

The e-commerce revolution becomes more obvious still at Christmas. Last year an estimated 33.5 million Britons bought some or all of their festive gifts online. That figure is expected to grow this time round.

But old habits die hard. Despite the web-based buying frenzy many of us still prefer to choose our purchases from physical shelves and racks, and two thirds of people shop at least once a week by car.

Our final analysis of what is behind the change in van traffic will be published early next year. But before that Foundation staff have their own Christmas shopping to do: one way or another.

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