It’s officially December, which in marketing terms means waving goodbye to non-Christmas related subjects until the start of the Boxing Day sales.

Are you ready? Are ya?

This week’s roundup is unashamedly festive, with news about Christmas shopping, social media conversation, consumer trust and more.

Don’t forget to download the Internet Statistics Compendium for more trusty insight.

85% of UK consumers to buy half of their Christmas gifts online

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of the way, Tryzens has revealed that the majority of UK consumers will shop for Christmas online this year.

A survey found that 85% of UK consumers will buy at least half their gifts online, while 56% will shop via their smartphones and tablets.

22% of people are also reported to have started their Christmas shopping in October and 33% in November.

Lastly, a very eager 5% started way back in January 2016.

Over 50% of top UK sites use at least one content recommendation engine

The New Yorker recently stopped using content recommendation engines – or monetization platforms known for their ‘Around the Web’ suggestions – due to allegations that they potentially support questionable content.

However, SimilarTech has found that they are in widespread use both in the UK and US.

Over 50% of top media sites in the UK use one or more them, and 75 out of 100 biggest online publications do the same.

In fact, going against the assumption that they are going out of favour, the number of sites using content recommendation engines appears to be growing.

Christmas conversation hits social peak on 1st December

New insight from Carat UK suggests we’re less excited about Christmas this year, with a 5% decrease of Christmas mentions on Twitter.

However, while figures suggest that 45% of people start to feel excited about Christmas ahead of December, it only become socially acceptable to start posting from 1st December, demonstrated by the fact that Christmas tweets increased by a whopping 65% on the same day last year.

As a result of the collective excitement on 1st December people start planning which gifts to buy people, though 46% of shoppers are said to leave present buying to the second half of the month.

Delivery options to determine choice of retailers

According to Shutl, retailers need to rely on more than reputation to ensure sales this Christmas.

In a survey of 1,070 online shoppers, 95% said they would consider going to another retailer if a site couldn’t offer a delivery that suited their needs. Likewise, 41% said they’d definitely shop elsewhere if the last mile delivery wasn’t right for them.

With 42% of shoppers having higher online delivery expectations than in 2015, the pressure for retailers is on.

Married male millennials are the most engaged consumers, apparently

A study by Affinion has delved into the engagement levels of consumers all over the world.

In a Customer Engagement Score of between one and 100, millennials were found to have the highest.

Those that were married also reported higher engagement levels, with an average score of 67 compared with 64 in singletons.

Likewise, males are the most engaged gender, reporting a stronger bond with their banks and mobile phone providers.

M&S named as the UK’s favourite Christmas shop

New research from Rakuten Marketing has revealed that Marks & Spencer is officially the nation’s favourite Christmas shop, with nearly a third of Brits planning to spend the most there this December.

In second position is Boots, and despite a strong advertising presence at this time of year, John Lewis comes in third.

The survey found that just 27% of British consumers make gift purchase decisions based on a brand’s Christmas TV ad campaign. Instead, 33% say they use retailer websites to source information, and 31% say recommendations from family and friends.

31% of shoppers abandon baskets due to complicated payment processes

In a survey of 1,000 UK adults, PPRO Group has discovered that online merchants are failing to offer customers their preferred payment option, resulting in 31% of consumers abandoning purchases at the checkout.

The survey also found that, this Christmas, 61% of consumers will be buying gifts online at home while watching TV, while 13% will shop from their smartphones while lying in bed.

Bad news for employers – 17% also admit they will be buying their Christmas gifts online while at work.

UK sees higher online conversation rates than US 

The Ecommerce Quarterly report from Monetate has revealed that UK retailers are faring better when it comes to online conversions.

It found that the UK is converting more than the US for the second year in a row, taking into account figures from both 2015 and 2016.

What’s more, while add-to-basket rates have dropped in the US, the UK’s has steadily increased. 

Average order value also saw month-on-month improvement in the UK throughout the last year.

User-generated content results in greater consumer trust

A new report by Olapic has found that user-generated images are much more likely to generate consumer trust than those created by marketers.

In a survey of more than 4,500 active social media users in the US and Europe, 46% of people said they would place trust in user generated content, with just 27% saying they’d trust content created by brands. Only 5% said they would trust straight-forward advertising. 

In terms of the preferred forms of user generated content, 52% cited photos as the best, ahead of 27% for video and 12% for written content.