For some lucky souls, Christmas gift shopping ends in October, with a neatly wrapped stack of perfectly chosen presents for their lucky gift recipients. Most of us, however, may need a little more guidance – this year more than ever. 

That’s why TK Maxx have commissioned a team of Behavioural Science experts to ‘unwrap’ the psychology of Christmas gift shopping to help the public nail their Christmas shopping this festive season. The team has developed the key principles of hacking gift shopping this year, to keep your trip productive and relaxing. Additionally, the team has identified the ‘difficulties’ most commonly affecting struggling shoppers at this time of year – including ‘cognitive overload’, ‘lack of planning’ and ‘financial stress’ – and produced the ‘Festive Five’, the key rules to follow to ensure Christmas shopping trips are productive and stress-free

The Festive Five

  1. Get Personal 

Seek to find a more personal gift; it’ll be the perfect present.

A Behavioural Science principle called the “Labour Illusion” suggests we value really unique personal gifts more, as we perceive more effort has gone into them.

  1. Work out Who’s Who

Create groups or categories for those you need to buy gifts for.

“Chunking” is a behavioural process whereby you give your brain a break by creating categories and groups – so within your gifting recipient list, work out your fashionistas from your budding chefs to your under £10-ers, for maximum efficiency.

  1. Get a Game Plan

Make a plan and stick to it. 

The behavioural science principle of Implementation Intentions says that we are much more likely to follow through on our intentions if we make a simple plan of how we will carry them out. Ticking things off as we go also leverages the Goal Gradient Effect which shows that the closer we think we are to completing a goal, the more we try to achieve it. 

  1. Enhance Your Focus

Music matters so get yourself a shopping playlist. 

Classical music has been shown to increase focus and concentration, whilst upbeat music can help with feeling positive and motivated.         

  1. Go On… Treat Yourself 

Whether it’s a cup of tea and a biscuit or a glass of fizz, raise a glass (or mug) to your hard work.

Psychological research has shown that motivation increases significantly when we reward ourselves immediately after the completion of a task.

Mike Hughes, one of the behavioural scientists who led the study said: “In our research, we have unearthed the psychological, often ‘hidden’ pain points that can cause shoppers to feel stress, and perhaps not buy the best gifts at Christmas. To overcome these, we developed behavioural science strategies to help shoppers better plan, browse and buy. The Festive Five has been designed specifically to help shoppers hack their Christmas shopping as they go, and ultimately help them nail Christmas gift shopping this year.”

The Scientists conducted a full audit of the Christmas shopping experience – mapping the customer experience and pinning down potential challenges, emerging emotions and frustration contributors along the Christmas shopping journey; supported by light-touch interviews with shoppers.

They then completed an ideation session within the broader Behavioural Science unit in London trying to solve Christmas shopping stress and low productivity – before utilising relevant academic literature to identify behavioural principles and proven solutions, to form and support recommendations. 

This year, more than ever, shoppers are looking to nail Christmas gifting for less. That’s why retail experts at TK Maxx have commissioned this research to help support their customers in finding the perfect gifts this Christmas – for more about gifting visit

TK Maxx is offering quality gifts at great value this Christmas, with ridiculous possibilities in every category – from fashion to beauty to homeware to kids – all under one roof and all at up to 60% less than the RRP.  With fresh deliveries in store every day until Christmas Eve, you can find something extra special to gift your loved ones at TK Maxx (no matter how last-minute!)

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