Christmas in times of COVID-19: 6 times more online orders in 2020, compared to 2016


2020 has been a challenge for the whole world, each of us witnessing a new kind of reality. We have learned to adapt, to accept change and to be open to look at things from a new perspective. Social interactions have changed and we still need to be physically apart from each other. But physical distance does not mean emotional distance. And now that we are approaching Christmas, we are thinking about our loved ones and how we can make them happier. Reveal Marketing Research wanted to find out what Christmas looks like in a pandemic for Romanians and how their habits changed at the end of 2020.

Based on the respondents’ answers, the average holiday budget of Romanians in 2020 would look like this:

• Total: RON 1059

• Food: RON 539

• Gifts: RON 395

• Decorations: RON 125

Segments of population

  • The biggest spenders: modern families – RON 1284 and young professionals – 1116
  • The most economical segments: retired seniors – 765 and non-partner millennials – 987

The race for Christmas gifts in 2020: Where do Romanians buy from? Physical stores or online orders?

69% of respondents admit that they are still going to physical stores to buy Christmas gifts. (mall, supermarket, hypermarket, market). However, there is a decrease in the number of Romanians who shop in physical stores, compared to 2016 when they chose this method in proportion of 88%. In 2020, among those who prefer to go to stores, young professionals are those who have opted the most for this option – 81%. The phenomenon can be explained by the fact that, in general, young people have a lower risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19. Therefore, they may be less worried about being surrounded by others inside the stores.

When it comes to buying gifts for loved ones, retired seniors are divided in half. 50% of them declare they prefer to buy from physical stores, and the other half says that this year they place online orders. This percentage is encouraging and we notice the openness of seniors towards digitalization, along with a greater use of electronic devices. Their openness to the online environment may also be due to being part of a risk category, therefore they have to find safer alternatives for their health.

Compared to a similar study conducted 4 years ago, current data shows a significant increase in those who use the Internet to buy gifts. If in 2016, only 5% of Romanians said they shop online and only 7% – bought both physically and online, in 2020, 31% of respondents mention ordering presents on various websites. In 2019, the same study shows that 40% of the total sample orders gifts online. Compared to last year, there is a slight decrease in the percentage, but the trend remains constant, and Romanians are leaning more and more towards the online version.

Christmas gifts budget

Out of the average total of 1059 lei allocated by a Romanian for holiday shopping, 395 lei are intended for gifts, according to respondents. Compared to last year, when the average budget for gifts was 403 lei, the decrease is not significant. The biggest spenders in this regard are modern families with 562 lei allocated, with a percentage of 44%, followed by young professionals who spend 423 lei on average for Christmas gifts. We notice that those with middle and higher incomes tend to allocate a larger budget to make their loved ones happy. Retired seniors and single millennials are the segments that allocate only 282 lei, respectively 272 lei for gifts, a fact also determined by lower incomes.

Interestingly, men spend more on gifts than women. In the case of men, the expenses for gifts occupy a budget of 433 lei, compared to women who allocate 364 lei.

Food is the most expensive category of Romanians’ budget

Romanians declare that over half of their holiday budget consists in food supplies (51%), respondents stating that they allocate 539 lei for food. Traditional families followed by single adults spend the most here, allocating 588 lei, respectively 586 lei. Traditional families therefore spend significantly more than the rest of the sample for food shopping – 56%.

Decorations – at the bottom of Romanians’ priorities

Only 12% of the holiday budget is destined for decorations. In 2019, this category occupies 137 lei out of Romanians’ total budget, and currently, the respondents are willing to allocate less: 125 lei. The reduced expenses on decorations may be due to the fact that many people already have ornaments at home from previous years and prefer to reuse the old ones.

Reveal Marketing Research is a market research company, with a team specialized in marketing research, sociological studies, customer insight, business strategy, market development.

The method was CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) and 1017 online interviews, were conducted with respondents over the age of 18, on a nationally representative urban and rural sample between 7-12 December 2020. Sampling error: +/- 3%. Trust level: 95%.