Christmas is still big business but the (yule) tide is turning.
A growing social trend against excessive consumerism is making Christmas less commercial than it used to be – and retailers are feeling the pain.
Christmas shopping is still worth about $10 billion a year to the Australian economy but consumers are embracing second-hand shopping, swapping quantity for quality, and spending judiciously in sales.
Retail analyst Shoppertrak says the biggest shopping day in Australia this year will be Boxing Day, followed by “Super Saturday” on December 21, December 19 (Thursday), December 20 (Friday) and December 22 (next Sunday).
Business analyst IBISWorld predicts Christmas retail spending will grow 1.7 per cent this year compared with last year. With inflation at 1.7 per cent that means no growth in real terms despite population growth.
With environmental issues, including bushfires and the drought, at the forefront of people’s minds, many people are taking to social media to discuss creative ways to make Christmas more sustainable.
Jo Lees from Rockdale in southern Sydney said: “We are not only spending less than usual but also buying second-hand where we can, especially for my daughter’s toys.”
“This Christmas my philosophy is buy sustainable, second-hand or make it myself – no debt Christmas!” said Kimerlie Sattler from Shellharbour in the Illawarra.
Matt Levinson from Rozelle in the inner west said his family does an adults-only Kris Kringle. “I really love the undivided focus of finding something really great for just one person – tends to be something locally made, grown or made ourselves or second-hand.”
Geoff O’Malley from the Northern Rivers said: “We’re doing more eco, useful and practical, online, cash and homemade gifts. Any kind of sale is great, including Black Friday because cost is an issue around Christmas.”
‘Spikes in spending’
Some of the spending is shifting, with online retailers continuing to see strong growth and events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday gaining traction in Australia. Black Friday is a traditional American day for sales and promotions, following the Thanksgiving holiday, followed by Cyber Monday for electronics and computing goods.
Commonwealth Bank economist Kristina Clifton said a sample of credit card data showed retail goods spending rose 87 per cent on Black Friday, compared with the three weeks prior.
“We have seen spikes in spending at the time of the Black Friday sales in the previous years but they have been much smaller in size, averaging around 28 per cent,” Ms Clifton said.
Booktopia founder Tony Nash said sales for his business were “as good as any other year”.
“More people are buying online as every year goes by so we can ride the wave of that,” Mr Nash said. “Amazon is doing a lot of advertising so they’re driving a lot of people online … and we benefit from that.”
Louisa Boag, one of the owners of The Christmas Tree Man, a family-run Christmas tree farm in the Southern Highlands, said there was higher demand this year, though the trees were smaller because of the drought.
“Sydney is our main customer base and perhaps they’re a little bit more aware of campaigns such as ‘buy from the bush’ and how they can support Aussie farmers and that’s had a good impact on us,” Ms Boag said.
“We sold out at the end of November, which is probably the earliest we’ve ever sold out.”
Source: Thanks smh.com