Preparations are well underway for Australian brands and retailers to capitalise on the upcoming holiday shopping season. As a key trading milestone – where Australians dig deep into their pockets to make Christmas purchases for their loved ones – brands and retailers are doing everything in their power to make the most of this festive retail period.
To better understand this year’s holiday commerce and how Australian shoppers will be behaving and purchasing this Christmas season, we surveyed 575 Australians in partnership with the CXI Research Group – Swinburne Business School.
“Holiday shopping is an ideal time for brands and retailers to make a lasting impression with their customers,” said Andrew Potter, Managing Director, CPM Australia & Retail Safari. “With this in mind and to help our clients become retail ready this holiday, our 2019 Christmas Shopping Intentions Report reinforces and shines a light on best practices for their retail strategies and impending sales success.”
Beating the Christmas rush
Whether consumers are shopping in-store or online, our research suggests that this season’s consumers will be organised this year. Sixty-six percent of Australians plan on shopping before the December silly season. Gift buying will start as early as October (10%) and that the crux of the holiday shopping will take place early to late November (48%).
Naturally we believe that the popularity of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are likely influencing this early holiday shopping trend. From what we can see, these online events are no longer exclusive to digital retailers. Brick-and-mortar retailers are also taking advantage of this early start and are stocking their own shelves with holiday enticements and sales.
What’s shaping 2019 holiday trading?
Our research points to five key retails trends that brands & retailers can expect during 2019’s gift buying season:
1. Christmas commerce
Across all age groups, the majority (63%) of Christmas shoppers’ plan on spending the same as last year – with just handful of gift givers who plan on spending more. Seventeen percent of consumers across generations intend to be slightly more cautious with their spending this holiday season. The 55-74 age bracket continue to be the most likely to spend less this coming Christmas. In contrast, across all age categories the number of consumers planning to spend more dipped substantially, from 18% to 10%. The 18-34 age bracket continue to be the most likely to spend more this holiday (19%), though the proportion reduced significantly (-12%) compared with 2018.
2. Behold the almighty power of touch
The report confirms that people are significantly more likely to buy what they touch. The “ability to see & touch the product” remains the main reason for shopping in physical stores. In addition, “the in-store experience” is now the 3rd most important reason for shopping in-store, up from last year’s 8th place. Even though Australians have adapted nicely to digital shoppers, they still crave physical experiences and peer-to-peer interactions. Those retailers with tactile displays will continue to play an important role in this year’s festive shopping.
3. No longer online vs in-store – It’s both
To find that perfect Christmas gift, fewer consumers plan to shop exclusively online or in-store. The findings confirm two key take-aways: majority of consumers (61%) will be leveraging both channels and that the physical store will still rule this holiday season. Over a third of shoppers plan to use only physical stores (35%, down 7%) while (5%, down 8%) will solely rely on online shopping channels.
4. Deck the halls of the department store
This holiday season consumers across all age groups will continue to shop across a variety of locations, with department stores (59%) and discount department stores (46%) topping the list for popularity. The popularity of department stores was boosted by the 18-34 age group, which increased by 10 points to 60%. Compared to Christmas 2018, more shoppers plan to visit supermarket/grocery stores (+7%), department stores (+3%), and internet-based retailers (+2%). In contrast, overall intentions to shop for gifts at electronics /computer stores /appliance retailers and apparel and footwear specialist has shown a decrease.
5. Tis the season for gift cards, clothing & footwear
For customers aged 35+, gift cards are the most popular present while clothing and shoes are the top gift for the 18-34 age group. Overall, present category intentions remain somewhat consistent across all age groups from last year’s findings.
“The research reminds us that the key to building holiday sales,” said Andrew Potter, “will be those brands and retailers who are successful at embracing the opportunity to fully offer rounded customer experiences in both the digital and physical spheres. In order to maximise this key trading period, they must make sure that their in-store representations link to their online pitch and create a seamless holiday story that feels relevant and engaging to this year’s holiday shopper.”
Who is spending more? Where are the 18-34 age bracket shopping? Who exactly are the early birds? The most & least popular gifts? To find out these answers and for a deeper dive into this year’s shopping expectations, download our 2019 Christmas Shopping Intentions infographic.