Miracle on High Street: COVID-stricken retailers prepare for Christmas boom

Forget the stocking stuffers, this year it’s all about till fillers as Australia’s long-suffering retail sector gears up for a welcome Christmas boom.

Forget the stocking stuffers, this year it’s all about till fillers as Australia’s long-suffering retail sector gears up for a welcome Christmas boom.

Research house Roy Morgan expects shoppers will pump $58.8 million into retailer coffers in the run-up to Christmas – roughly equal to last year’s holiday splurging and up 11.3% on 2019’s pre-Christmas trade.

The figures will come as a surprise to many, Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine said.

“No one believed that spending this coming Christmas could match the highs of last year, but as the population emerges from the most punishing crisis in a hundred years, shoppers are looking to reward themselves and their families,” she said.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said there is “a lot of Christmas cheer in these numbers” and shop owners around the country will undoubtedly be happy with the forecasted uptick in spending.

“The Christmas trading period is critical as it’s the time when most discretionary retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits for the year,” he said.

ABS retail data shows turnover lifted in September after several consecutive months in decline, amid lockdowns across numerous states.

Record online shopping tipped to squeeze delivery services

Online retail made up 15.3% of all Australian sales in September, marking a record high for the channel.

In total, Australians spent $4.3 billion online during the month, up 3.4% compared with August and a massive 42.6% compared with September 2020.

“More Australians are getting the things they need online with a few taps of their fingers, and the investments retailers have made to boost their digital offerings are paying off,” Mr Zahra said. 

“Whilst the record amount of online spending was driven by lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, where people were limited in terms of their physical shopping options, we expect online sales to remain at elevated levels moving forward.”

The elevated volume of online sales could pose problems for supply chains however, Mr Zahra cautioned, adding that shoppers should consider purchasing gifts early to ensure there is ample time for delivery.



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