Retail wrapped: This year’s Christmas trends

Monash University

The first lockdown-free Christmas since 2019 has allowed for a busy preparation to the season, with retailers and shoppers bringing out the Christmas spirit early in 2022.

For the third year, Monash Business School’s Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) research unit has released a report on Christmas retail trends. This year’s report found 55 per cent of Aussies now start their shopping one or more months in advance, with the remaining 45 per cent starting in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

The report’s additional key findings:

  • 90 per cent of shoppers will be buying gifts for family, 35 per cent for friends and 30 per cent for extended family

  • Australian shoppers estimate to spend $379 on Christmas presents for immediate family, compared to $190 for extended family and $133 for friends.

  • Four out of five shoppers plan to purchase a product in-store

  • 47 per cent plan to make purchases on physical retailer websites, compared to 37 per cent from online-only retailers

To take the stress out of choosing a gift, 64 per cent of shoppers plan to give money to adults and children. Similarly, 41 per cent of shoppers indicated they will be purchasing gift cards and vouchers as part of their Christmas shopping.

Due to ongoing production delays, the early start to Christmas shopping is helped in part from retailers stocking earlier than usual to avoid selling out. Select Target stores were known to have stocked festive decorations as early as August, and the famous Myer Christmas windows started on 6 November, a week earlier than previous years.

Although sentiment for buying gifts this year is strong, research suggests that shoppers are planning to purchase fewer products in every category this year. This aligns with the recent Spotlight on Sustainability research indicating Australian consumers are reducing overall products purchased.

The most popular two categories for gifting this year both trended downwards since last year. Clothing, footwear and accessories are 47 per cent, down from 58 per cent in 2021, and toys and games products are sitting at 38 per cent this year, down from 47 per cent in 2021.

Regarding payment, 59 per cent of Australian shoppers intend to use debit cards for Christmas purchases, followed by credit cards at 40 per cent, and cash unsurprisingly lower at 31 per cent. Buy Now, Pay Later schemes are going to be used by one in five Australian shoppers.

Marking the end of the retail silly season, Boxing Day sales are still returning favourable results. The report finds that in comparison to other sales events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, it remains the top sales event with 37 per cent of shoppers planning to take advantage of the sales this year.

This is higher than the report found last year, with only 30 per cent of shoppers taking part in Boxing Day sales in 2021.

“On the back of months of cost-of-living increases and interest rate rises, it’s no surprise that more shoppers are going to shop at sales events this year compared to 2021.” says the report’s lead author Dr Eloise Zoppos, principal research consultant and research fellow in the ACRS research unit, in Monash Business School’s Department of Marketing.

“Christmas may be starting earlier than ever, but these sales keep the Christmas spirit going.”

About the ACRS

Since 2013, ACRS has taken the pulse of Australian shoppers to investigate what drives their shopping behaviour, their channel usage and preferences, category purchases, influential touchpoints as well as their general shopping experience within and around shopping centres. Applying an evidence-based approach, we are able to provide rich insight into the minds of consumers and Australia’s retail landscape.

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