Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Retailers urged to get Christmas-ready now

Retailers are being urged to get Christmas-ready ASAP, after research conducted by parcel delivery company CouriersPlease that reveals two-thirds of Aussie shoppers are planning to purchase gifts months ahead of Christmas.

CouriersPlease commissioned a survey of an independent panel of 1007 Australian online shoppers.[1] The full survey results, including breakdowns across age and State, can be found here.

According to the survey, during the key Christmas trading months of November and December in 2021, Australians spent more than $65 billion, both in-store and online – a $3 billion increase on the previous year.[2][3] However, household Christmas budgets may not go as far as last year, as this year inflation has skyrocketed and interest rates are continuing to rise, which will drive manufacturers and retailers to increase prices.

“The survey found 54% of shoppers are feeling the pinch and will spend less on Christmas gifts. This compares with just three per cent who said they will spend more. Specifically, just over a quarter (26%) said they will spend less overall and 26% said they will give fewer gifts. Three per cent said they will boycott Christmas altogether and 42% said they will spend the same.

“However, there is another shopper cohort who will buy this year’s Christmas gifts earlier, when respondents were asked how soon they will shop with ongoing supply chain issues and some product shortages. Overall, 61% of respondents said they will shop earlier this year than they normally do. Specifically, one in five shoppers (19%) have already secured their Christmas gifts, while a third (34%) will have completed their purchases by the end of this month to ensure they can nab the products they want at a good price. With a further third (32%) planning to do their Christmas shopping in October, 66% overall will have completed their Christmas shopping by the end of next month.”

CouriersPlease Chief Transformation Officer Jessica Ip says: “Our research shows Christmas will be coming early for retailers, with a majority of Aussies shopping earlier than they did last year. I strongly encourage retailers to prepare for an influx of pre-Christmas shoppers earlier this year by ensuring they maintain healthy stock levels. It is also important to ensure their eCommerce stores are well-equipped to handle increased customer volumes, with a strong plan in place to avoid or resolve glitches or the potential for websites to crash quickly and early. Ensuring customer service staff are equipped to manage increased enquiries will also be important.”

“Retailers could also consider hiring additional staff to ensure orders are picked and packed swiftly, while having a courier partner with a strong track record for on-time deliveries and strategies in place to combat delays will also be key.”

According to the survey, not everyone appears ready to hit the shops just yet: 29% of shoppers reported feeling comfortable leaving their shopping to just a month before and a rather confident 6% intend to purchase their gifts in December. Their decision to hold off may pay off as it coincides with the four-day long Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales starting 25 November. The pre-Christmas retail sales are forecasted to parallel 2021’s ground-breaking record of $58 billion, up almost 12% from the pre-pandemic results in 2019; eastern states in particular are set to feel the heat with predictive increase of up to 12% from 2019.[4]

“Retailers have reaped the geopolitical consequences of restricted trade over two years and supply chain disruptions: almost 70% of retail trade businesses are battling a supply chain crisis,[5] while 38% of businesses expect to increase their prices in the coming months.[6] Labour shortages have exacerbated the issue: Australian job vacancies have risen 14% since May and July provided the lowest unemployment rate our country has seen since 1974.[7]

“While the issue will improve as the Federal Government plans to increase immigration, it will be challenging in the short term for supply chain-reliant businesses – including the manufacturing, transport, postal and warehouse industries, where job vacancy rates have more than doubled in the first half of this year in,[8]” Ms Ip said.

[1] Respondents made at least three online purchases in the last three months.

[2] ABS, December 2021, abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/retail-and-wholesale-trade/retail-trade-australia/dec-2021

[3] ABS, November 2021, abs.gov.au/statistics/industry/retail-and-wholesale-trade/retail-trade-australia/nov-2021

[4] Roy Morgan, 8 November 2021,  roymorgan.com/findings/8838-black-friday-and-cyber-monday-sales-202111072327

[5] ABS, 23 June 2022, abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/business-indicators/business-conditions-and-sentiments/jun-2022

[6] ABS, 26 May 2022,  abs.gov.au/statistics/economy/business-indicators/business-conditions-and-sentiments/may-2022

[7] ABS, 14 June 2022, abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/unemployment-rate-falls-35

[8] ABS, 14 June 2022, abs.gov.au/media-centre/media-releases/unemployment-rate-falls-35

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