Christmas is literally coming early this year!
The festive season is always important for retailers – and this year, after on-again, off-again lockdowns and lingering uncertainty, it’s arguably more critical than ever.
That’s why Afterpay has commissioned a dedicated report into how Australians will shop and spend this holiday season to give merchants the actionable insights they need to succeed.
The good news? The festive season is shaping up well. “Consumer sentiment is upbeat,” says Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers’ Association.
“People are excited to be back out shopping. We’re forecasting Australians will spend nearly $59 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period, which is in line with last year’s spend, but well up on the pre-pandemic conditions.”
However there are some clear trends – such as the rise of gift cards, and consumers’ growing concerns over deliveries and delays – that retailers should be aware of in order to make the most of the holiday season.
Australians are excited
Afterpay’s Festive Forecast, which surveyed 1770 Australians, found that most (54 per cent) feel excited about the holiday season. After a long and tumultuous year, more than half of Australians are looking to spending time with family and friends, and one in five is simply keen to put Covid behind them.
Gen Z and Millennials are especially excited
Younger Australians are especially looking forward to celebrating, and one in three are planning to spend more this year compared to 2020.
For retailers, this presents a clear opportunity for incremental revenue.
Christmas will (literally) come early
Forget last-minute shopping. This year, many shoppers are aware of supply chain disruptions and some are worried that lockdowns could yet pose a threat to shopping plans. As a result, more than half (54%) of Australians will start their Christmas shopping in November.
This means retailers need to start considering inventory, supply chains and fulfilment plans now.
Aussies see sales differently
Afterpay’s Festive Forecast uncovered a generational divide in the way Australians view sales. More than half of Gen Z and Millennials plan to take advantage of sales events like Cyber Weekend, while only four per cent of Baby Boomers are factoring them into their plans.
This means that if retailers are investing in Cyber Weekend marketing, it pays to consider the audience. If your shoppers tend to be older, it may be worth considering campaigns to educate them on sales events.
The rise of the gift card
Don’t have a gift card offering? Now is the time for retailers to start thinking about one. Afterpay’s Festive Forecast found that 84 per cent of Australians would like to receive a gift card, and 47 per cent are considering gifting one.
Aside from gift cards, sustainable and sentimental presents also look set to be popular this year.
Where shoppers are spending
While it’s true that Gen Z and Millennial shoppers are more likely to spend online, consumers of all generations will be shopping in-store – especially as Christmas Day draws closer.
This is partly because shoppers are concerned about delays or feel frustrated by having to return products. The lesson for retailers? Differentiate yourself and allay customer fears by clearly communicating delivery times and offering options like click-and-collect if possible. It’s also important to ensure that customers have all the information they need – including size and fit – to feel confident about purchasing online.