Unboxing this year’s Christmas retail trends – with a big splurge on travel expected

Australians are embracing the Christmas spirit, buying more gifts and increasing the amount they spend on presents this year. Not surprisingly, travel gifts are set to boom.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Australia. With lockdowns easing around the country, Victorians are leading the charge, particularly when it comes to travel.

Monash Business School’s Australian Consumer and Retail Studies (ACRS) unit conducted research in November 2021 to shed light on consumer buying intentions this holiday season and found there may be more Christmas cheer in the air this year for consumers and retailers alike.

Australian shoppers who intend to purchase Christmas gifts this year increased to 92 per cent (up from 87 per cent in 2020).

With lockdowns easing, spending is up

This is the second year ACRS has conducted research into people’s attitudes and behaviours to investigate Christmas retail trends.

Last year, many Australian consumers expected to buy less for their immediate family, other relatives and friends or were holding out to shop for these people because they were uncertain whether they would be able to see them due to travel and group gathering restrictions.

But with lockdowns easing across the country, it seems that this year the Christmas spirit is alive and well, particularly in Victoria.

They will spend more than the average Australian spends including 19 per cent more on personal care gifts, 17  per cent more on clothing-related items and a whopping 42 per cent more on travel and related gifts according to our study.

Our research found that the number of Australian shoppers intending to purchase Christmas gifts this year increased to 92 per cent (up from 87 per cent in 2020). And many Aussies are also expecting to spend more money on their gifts this Christmas.

And by the time this is published, most Australian shoppers would have started their Christmas shopping already, with 55 per cent of Aussies starting their shopping one or more months in advance, and 46 per cent starting in the four weeks leading up to Christmas.

Aussies are also expecting to spend more money on their gifts this Christmas

Spend more on family and friends

When it comes to Christmas retail trends for family and friends this year, Aussies are sticking with the classics.

Clothing, footwear and accessories remain the most common type of product purchased for Christmas shopping this year, followed closely by food and beverages – because who doesn’t love a good box of chocolates for Christmas? – and toys and games.

But Australian shoppers expect to spend significantly more on their Christmas purchases across almost all categories this year, which could be because they’re able to spend time with their friends and family once again.

Compared to last year, Aussies expect 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.

And although travel and tourism-related purchases remain the least common type of product purchased as part of Christmas shopping this year, Aussie shoppers expect to spend a whopping 253 per cent more on these types of purchases this year.

How are shoppers buying?

This holiday season, Australian consumers are planning to use a mix of physical and online stores to complete their shopping.

Physical stores remain the most popular way for Aussies to shop for most products this Christmas. For example, 42 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.

But previous ACRS research has shown how popular online shopping has become, with the majority of Australians (84 per cent) making a purchase online in the last three months.

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) more than last year for their Christmas purchases.

Australian consumers are planning to use a mix of physical and online stores to complete their shopping.

Retailers embracing tech and digital

Shopping centres and retailers have also been mixing the physical and the digital to build Christmas spirit this year.

Department store David Jones recently unveiled its Christmas activities and activations at the Elizabeth St flagship store.

Its Christmas windows involve an animated component in 2021, whilst their in-store activities, such as wish-list writing workshop, are complemented by immersive Virtual Reality pop-up displays where shoppers can ride to the international space station.

Meanwhile, retailer Country Road has partnered with a tech service to allow customers to send their loved ones a digital ‘gift story’ (such as a personalised video, photo or text message) while the physical gift is being shipped, alleviating any concerns over shipping and delivery times during the busy Christmas season.

Lastly, retail landlord Vicinity Centres has launched an ‘NFTree’ in Sydney’s The Galeries. Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are units of data stored on a digital ledger (blockchain) and is often used for digital art. The tree, constructed from glass, mirrors and Perspex, reimagines the Christmas tree tradition and is the first of its kind in Australia.

With Australian’s shopping and spending more this Christmas, retailers will be rejoicing all the way to 2022.

Published on 7 Dec 2021