Christmas shopping stress scientifically measured

By Chris Dawson November 16, 2016 - 10:29 am

How stressful do you think shopping for Christmas presents is? Very, according to a new biometric study conducted by eBay which showed heartrates increased by 33% in participants whilst Christmas shopping.

eBay kitted out 100 Londoners with state-of-the-art wearable devices on Friday 11th & Saturday 12th November 2016 and set them shopping.

Shoppers’ heart rates, blood volume pulses, skin temperatures, electrodermal activities and motions were gathered by the medical-grade device and transmitted in real time to Lightwave’s software platform. Lightwave then analysed 3.24 million data points which were segmented by age and gender to offer a never-before-seen glimpse into the emotional rollercoaster of the annual shopping custom.

With only a few weeks until Christmas the pressure mounts as you can’t turn up empty handed on Christmas morning. While ‘being thoughtful’ is the single most important factor, 70% of shoppers still feel like they settle when purchasing items for loved ones. The thought behind the gift is often lost as giving becomes more transactional than ever before.

The wall of disenchantment:

lightwave-wearable-deviceeBay investigated shoppers’ physiological responses to a 60-minute experience and discovered that 60% hit festive shopping fatigue at only 32 minutes in; the ‘wall of disenchantment’ where engagement and interest levels drop and never recover. This browsing burnout was the precise moment when most lost interest in the task.

The study also highlights the very real physiological pressure that Christmas shopping places on us all. Heart rates increased by 33% during the experiment which is on par with taking part in a marathon. An astonishing 88% even experienced tachycardia – where the heart races at over 100 bpm – a parallel reaction to a kickboxing class.

Participants revealed additional pressures of online and physical shopping at Christmas:

  • Over 45s feel the pressure more than any other age group with 88% noting that Christmas shopping is an extremely intense experience
  • Women find the annual activity more pressurised than their male counterparts (67% females vs. 56% males)
  • 70% of self-identified planners still felt more pressure than impulsive and freestyle customers


High Intensity Interval Shopping:

So what can we do to make this annual custom less pressurised? It seems Brits should take inspiration from their gym routine and embrace High Intensity Interval Shopping.

The study shows that short bursts of shopping can make you less stressed and potentially more thoughtful in your buying habits this Christmas. Bite size browsing, such as taking 10 minutes to shop via mobile on commute or purchasing single items during a lunch break can decrease stress and promote more mindful shopping,” commented Retail Director at eBay, Rhian Bartlett.

eBay ‘do good, feel good’ Shop

To promote thoughtful giving this Christmas, eBay has announced The Ultimate ‘do good, feel good’ Shop; launching in time for Giving Tuesday (29th November). Falling straight after Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is the international day to do ‘good stuff’ for charity. The shop on will feature over 150 items from big name brands and famous faces. Percentage of sales from every item will go towards selected charities within the eBay for Charity programme.

To combat the seasonal stress, eBay will also bring the store to life in a physical space in Central London. The destination will allow visitors to browse a selection of items available on in an experience like no other. Bio-analytics built into the shopping experience will enable guests to see instantly what they emotionally resonated with the most and unwrap what it means to give the perfect gift this Christmas.

  • Andy R
    5 years ago

    Just give the money direct to charity.

    For the price of some Ebay tat, you can dig a well in a village and give them clean water, together with a little thankyou card.

  • Jacquè Mcveasey
    5 years ago

    Last year my girlfriend brought me a £10 voucher from claires accessories, I wonder how high her stress levels were…

  • Mark
    5 years ago

    I get stressed opening presents- I prefer to get nothing rather than something that I don’t want (and will be donated to charity, sold on ebay or be found in a cupboard in many years time).

    • 5 years ago

      I’m with you Mark, the thing I hate most of all though is a voucher….

  • Gemma
    5 years ago

    Thy should have surveyed the people who process and deliver them…

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