Retailer survey tips for finding right recipe for ‘down’ Christmas

Challenging market conditions characteristic of 2019 are top of mind for Australian retailers as they enter the Christmas trading period.

Deloitte’s ‘Retailers’ Christmas Survey 2019’ reveals that positive sentiment is down in strong contrast to 2018 when retailers were approaching the season with enthusiasm.

Survey’s key findings

Now in its eighth year, key survey findings include:

  • Only 62 per cent of retailers expect to see higher sales this Christmas compared to last year, down from 80 per cent last year
  • Just under 40 per cent are expecting to see some form of Christmas period margin decrease
  • 39 per cent will be discounting pre-Christmas to help drive sales
  • Digital continues to be a standout, with 58 per cent expecting to see growth of 10 per cent or more in online Christmas sales
  • 72 per cent expect to see positive sales growth in calendar year 2020, down from more than 90 per cent for 2019

Season for discounting and margin pressure?

“It’s clearly been a tough year for many retailers, with 47 per cent of our survey respondents telling us they’ve experienced flat or negative sales growth over the past 12 months,” Deloitte’s Retail, Wholesale and Distribution Group National Leader David White said.

“So it’s probably no surprise many are also approaching this Christmas with a little less cheer, certainly compared to last year. This is unfortunately the most pessimistic we’ve seen retailers since 2013.

“Many have pinned their hopes on federal government tax cuts, but the latest trading data suggests consumers have chosen to keep any windfall in their pockets.”

He adds that with the proliferation of sales campaigns such as next week’s Black Friday leading into December, many are concerned this could bring forward Christmas trading at discounted prices.

Sales’ drivers

Over a quarter of respondents highlighted customer service as the most important driver of sales this Christmas, just behind digital and omni-channel offerings, says the survey. 

“New products and online will remain key to growth prospects, and only 11 per cent of retailers are expecting to grow through new store openings, down from a peak of 43 per cent in 2017.

For further information on the survey visit: deloitte.com.au

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