What are your Christmas 2015 predictions?

Christmas looks positive this year, but consumers' shopping patterns approaching peak have changed quite dramatically thanks to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this year we saw Black Friday being stretched out by retailers into Black Friday week. But this means we've seen a lot of softness in September and October.

Nevertheless, spending over the Christmas period is going to be buoyant for UK consumers and interestingly, half of consumers are planning to do their shopping online.

But the expectations have changed quite dramatically for consumers – they want to shop via any channel at any time. Consumers are also much more savvy at seeking out the best deals and sales opportunities, which reflects what we're seeing with Black Friday – we're seeing consumers are more savvy and not just diving in for headline discounts, and at the same time retailers are more prepared and more focused at maintaining margins.

Why are people spending more than last Christmas?

One in five shoppers are planning to spend more this Christmas season and half are feeling optimistic. I think the economic environment is a big part of that, we've seen some real wage increase and inflation remaining low which means people have got more disposable income relative to what they had previously. Plus the fear around interest rates rising has subsidised in the short term because of the low inflation.

I also do think the convenience aspect and ability to shop on the move through mobile and all channels does increase the propensity for consumers to buy additional products this Christmas. If you look at the Black Friday sales the key challenge for retailers is maintaining the operating profits and at the same time driving top line growth.

Are people spending more online, why?

Online still remains the biggest growth area of retail, but the rate of growth has slowed through this year partly because it can't continue to grow at the 15-20% rate it has been doing on an ongoing basis, it's just the natural slowing of online channels.

I do think over this Christmas peak period, we are going to see a sharp growth in online, more than 50% of consumers are expected to do more than the majority of their shopping online this year.

But when it comes to total sales, 85% of sales are still made through physical stores because people still ultimately enjoy going shopping. We expect online to be the biggest growth area in retail, but it's not necessarily going to be the biggest overall in terms of sales.

How can retailers ensure online continues to grow?

Seamless customer experience and the ability for customers to be able to move between different channels with very little friction to complete the shopping purchase is very important.

I'd also highlight the importance around customer convenience, such as offering more granular delivery slots to customers and the ability to be able to pick up from a convenient location. Convenience and delivery options will be key in terms of growing online.

Thirdly, retailers should look into implementing really targeted and personalised customer experience – where shoppers can find the product they want, when they want it, how they want it, is the key to driving omnichannel growth.

How do shoppers feel about buying through mobile apps today?

In terms of all the digital channels mobile is the fastest growing channel. But in terms of buying from apps, it depends on the frequency of the purchase the shopper is making. We tend to see consumers will invest in using a retail app when they make relatively frequent purchases with the retailer – effectively, the investment of time, downloading and maintain an app with storage space on the consumer's device pays back if you use it frequently.

How will people be shopping differently next year and in the following five years?

I think there are some obvious things set to happen in terms of continued growth of mobile commerce, but what I do think we'll start to see – although it won't be fully fledged next year – is 'commerce everywhere'. How do you integrate shopping into the home in terms of linking the home, television, and the car into the shopping experience?

We'll start to see growth, not just thinking of shopping through a specific device or channel, but we'll see retailers having to adapt and to merge experiences into the physical devices in your house or linking technology into your car – that'll be the next big wave of growth linked to the Internet of Things. As devices get smarter around us, the opportunity to shop in new and exciting ways significantly increases.

But there still isn't that penetration between your TV set and your shopping experience, relatively speaking there's not much eCommerce that happens through the TV channel in your house. And when we have smart washing machines, TVs and fridges – when those things can genuinely interact, the opportunity to link that through to retail and online shopping is very exciting.