How shopping centres can make the most of Christmas coming early

Maybe* recently asked consumers “Is Christmas cancelled?”. We received 14,000 responses from real shoppers enabling us to unwrap what customers are expecting from their Christmas shopping experience this year. You can download the full report which is packed full of interesting insights such as that 65% of people surveyed are already shopping this year.

With that in mind, we wanted to shine a light on some of the shopping centres who are rising to the unique challenge they face this year; to drive footfall at a time when 31% of shoppers tell us that health and safety will be the number one factor in deciding where they shop.

Maybe* has profiled several shopping centres of differing sizes up and down the country to understand what’s working for them to engage customers ahead of Christmas.

Only 12% plan to shop at a destination shopping centre 

27% of our survey participants will spend less than they did last year but despite economic uncertainty, over half plan to spend the same amount. In some shopping centres, gifting experiences have already started - but are they being communicated clearly enough?

With only 12% of shoppers intending to do their main Christmas shopping in a centre and 30% of people intending to shop local, the pressure is on for centres to offer something independent, unique and utilise the space for pop up experiences. Queensgate in Peterborough, are already on it.


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At Cribbs Causeway, independent gifting company Riva Gifts are popping up in the centre’s John Lewis. While at Rushden Lakes, a handmade and vintage pop up market will host independent crafters, makers and retailers over the festive season. Both of these posts were the best performing social media posts created about the centres through the whole of September, which reiterates that the public is onboard with these type of events.

Despite this, when you look at what Cribbs Causeway itself is saying, there is not yet much mention of Christmas or of gifting or the new retailer in their own social media content.

The gifting retailer was responsible for a large amount of conversation about the centre. Centers can learn from this report to understand what customers are talking about, and then use it to inform their own priorities.

It’s still safety first

57% of shoppers are still worried about the health and safety of the High Street and shopping centres this Christmas. Amongst late night shopping announcements or COVID-19 secure grottos which will continue to delight shoppers, there is also a need to balance the festive messaging with safety and social distancing measures.

From Bon Accord in Aberdeen to the Dolphin Centre in Poole, centres’ social media content still shows it’s safety first.

The Dolphin Centre has supported all its tenants by having them talk about what they are all doing in store to look after themselves, and look after their customers. Meanwhile Queensgate Peterborough has launched Coverup Peterborough as a social media campaign to remind everyone to wear a mask. By asking residents of the city to share photographs of themselves wearing a mask, Queensgate has turned a contentious topic into something which connects the community. 

Making your safety story human and local reminds shoppers that everyone is in this together.


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Key takeaway

Christmas shopping is underway and centres can get ahead of this by supporting their tenants by showcasing gifting ideas and events. By partnering with independent retailers and providing pop up experiences, centres are able to capitalise on the trend for supporting local businesses, while at the same time providing customers with a reason to visit.  Just remember that while the festivities will get shoppers' attention it's the clarity around health and safety precautions that will see them walk through the doors. 

Why Maybe* for shopping centres


The Maybe* platform provides a social media engagement tool that helps you listen to topical and local conversations. Whether you’re a centre manager, an asset manager or a marketing manager, listen to the relevant social media conversations about your shopping centre or assets, and the locations that you are in. Listen to the conversation created by your tenants and retailers and understand how shoppers are feeling and behaving, so you can tailor your communications to meet their needs.

Join us for daily training sessions and improve your social media results.