Retailers urged to get Christmas-ready now as shoppers buy early

- September 26, 2022 3 MIN READ

Retailers need to get Christmas-ready ASAP, as a survey reveals that two-thirds of Aussie shoppers will be done-and-dusted with their Christmas shopping by the end of October.

The CouriersPlease independent panel survey of 1007 Australian online shoppers, who had made at least three online purchases in the past three months, found that 66 per cent of respondents will wrap up their gift-shopping in the next six weeks.

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. However, household Christmas budgets may not go as far as last year. Inflation has skyrocketed and interest rates are continuing to rise and 54 per cent of shoppers are feeling the pinch. These respondents say they will spend less on Christmas gifts this year; only 3 per cent said they will spend more.

Specifically, just over a quarter (26 per cent) said they will spend less overall and and 42 per cent said they will spend the same. Three per cent said they will be boycotting Christmas altogether.

Christmas shopping happening now

Importantly, the survey also found many 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, 61 per cent said they will shop earlier this year than they normally do.

“Our research shows Christmas will be coming early for retailers, with a majority of Aussies shopping earlier than they did last year,” says Chief Transformation Officer at CouriersPlease, Jessica Ip. “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.”

Specifically, one in five shoppers have already secured their Christmas gifts, while a third will have completed their purchases by the end of this month. With a further third planning to do their Christmas shopping in October, 66 per cent overall will have completed their Christmas shopping by the end of October.

Staff-up to meet demand

“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,” says Ip.

With the current talent crisis hitting small business, that might be easier said than done. The August Employment Hero SME Index revealed that a talent crisis is hitting most small and medium businesses, with many competing heavily for available staff.

“What we continue to see play out in our August data is that while employment growth has been strong year on year, the pace of employee growth from July to August is stagnant for most SMEs,” says Ben Thompson, Founder and CEO of Employment Hero. “We’re witnessing talent shortages affecting key areas and industries, which in turn is slowly lifting salary growth with median hourly rates increasing as businesses prioritise retaining and attracting talent.”

Australian job vacancies have risen 14 per cent since May and July provided the lowest unemployment rate our country has seen since 1974.

“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,” says Ip.

So, if you require extra casuals and part-time staff to help you over the Christmas period, now is the time to be recruiting.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday still in play

Not everyone appears ready to hit the shops just yet: 29 per cent of shoppers reported feeling comfortable leaving their shopping to just a month before and 6 per cent intend to leave gift purchases until December. Their decision to hold off may be influenced by 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 per cent from the pre-pandemic results in 2019. Eastern states in particular are set to feel the heat with predictive increase of up to 12 per cent from 2019.

The full survey results can be found here.

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