Consumers and retailers rejoice: Christmas cheer is in air

Monash University

Australians are embracing the post-lockdown Christmas spirit, buying more gifts and increasing their spend on presents from previous years, a new report by Monash University researchers has found.

Research by Monash Business School’s Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) has found that as lockdowns ease across the country, this year’s Christmas spirit is alive and well, with Victorians taking the lead.

Victorian consumers are set to spend more than the average Australian, including 19 per cent more on personal care gifts, 17 per cent more on clothing-related items and 42 per cent more on travel and related gifts.

Last year, many Australian consumers expected to buy less in the lead up to Christmas. But this year, ACRS research shows the number of Australian shoppers intending to purchase Christmas gifts increased to 92 per cent (up from 87 per cent in 2020).

Many shoppers are also expecting to spend more money on their gifts this Christmas. Compared to last year, Aussie consumers are expected to spend 28 per cent more on clothing, footwear and accessories, 68 per cent more on personal care such as cosmetics, 69 per cent more on household goods such as homewares, and 65 per cent more on media and entertainment such as gaming and multimedia.

Although travel and tourism-related purchases are expected to be the least common type of product purchased as part of Christmas shopping, Aussie shoppers are still expected to spend 253 per cent more on these types of purchases this year.

“This is the second year ACRS has conducted research into people’s attitudes and behaviours around Christmas shopping,” said Dr Eloise Zoppos, Principal Consultant in the ACRS.

“We found that the extended lockdowns, retail closures, travel bans and being separated from loved ones really impacted the way Australians chose to celebrate Christmas this year. As a result Australians are making the most of Christmas this year, spending big and making travel plans.”

While most Australian shoppers (74 per cent) are planning to start their Christmas shopping around the same time as previous years, 18 per cent will start earlier than usual. Fifty Five per cent of Aussies start their shopping one or more months in advance, and 46 per cent start in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

One quarter of Victorians (22 per cent) will begin their Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year. There are three main reasons for Australians starting their shopping earlier: 58 per cent believe stock levels will be lower than usual, 49 per cent expect longer than usual delivery times, and 47 per cent have more time to plan their Christmas shopping.

“While physical retail stores remain the most popular way to shop for most products this Christmas, our findings revealed that Aussie shoppers were planning on using a mix of physical and online stores to complete their shopping,” said Dr Zoppos.

Forty two per cent of Aussies will buy clothing, footwear and accessory-related gifts at physical stores this Christmas season, whilst 32 per cent will buy toys and games from a physical store.

This Christmas, Australian shoppers expect to use physical retailer websites more than last year, with around a fifth of Australians (19 per cent) – and a higher proportion of Victorians (25 per cent) – expecting to use physical retailer websites (such as Myer or David Jones) more than last year for their Christmas purchases.

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