Six weeks out from Christmas, the majority of Australian retailers have an optimistic view of the forthcoming festive season. Suppliers to the P&C channel such as Pacific Optics and Noosa Beverages are also expecting strong sales.
Retail Council acting CEO Steve Wright said consumers have shown a strong initial interest in retailer’s offerings and this was likely to translate into a positive Christmas retail period.
“This year, it appears Australians are planning ahead more – starting their shopping earlier – perhaps reflecting our busier lifestyles,” Mr Wright said.
“We expect Australians to spend around $47 billion in the six weeks leading up to Christmas, which is about 4 per cent up on the Retail Council’s estimate of spending for the same period last year.”
Consumers have also indicated they are planning to hit the shops earlier than last year when making their Christmas purchases.
“More than 70 per cent of survey respondents expect to have all their Christmas gift purchasing completed by Wednesday 21 December, which is up by 20 percent from last year,” added Mr Wright.
Of course, there is also a strong contingent who will leave it till the days immediately before Christmas for ‘last minute’ purchases.
“As Christmas Eve is Saturday this year, we expect shoppers will take full advantage of the extra day once they finish work to pick up last minute gifts. Around 10 per cent of survey respondents indicated they would still be hunting for the perfect gift the day before Christmas,” Mr Wright said.
P&C preparation and stock needs
December is a key trading period for many convenience stores, as – unlike many other retailers – they’re open throughout the festive season, including all the public holidays.
Consumers are increasingly turning to convenience stores for last minute presents and for festive themed hostess gifts, often en-route to events.
Pacific Optics’ general manager sales Theo Foukkare told C&I Week this is an opportunity the P&C channel should be capitalising on.
“By mid-November stock should be in place and displayed, so for the next six weeks retailers can focus on customer service and selling – because as the weather heats up and Christmas looms it is going to get busy!
“Australia’s love of the great outdoors means that sunglasses and headwear are essential items for kids and adults alike and the P&C channel provides a handy solution for lost/forgotten and impulse purchases of these items.
“Sunglasses can experience a two to three times volume increase from November to February, and this is even higher in some coastal areas around the country. Headwear also experiences volume growth through this period.
“Bluetooth speakers and powerbanks also experience higher than normal sales as people are travelling and want to listen to music at the beach, at the pool, and in the backyard,” Mr Foukkare said.
Noosa Beverages head of sales & marketing Anthony Scodellaro said the dramatic summer increase in drink sales is reflected in the October/November peak in beverage sales into distributors.
“While carbonated beverages are enjoyed all year round manufacturers such as Noosa Beverages note that summer is definitely the peak time of both production and consumption.
“Carbonated beverage manufacturing typically sees in excess of 40 per cent uplift to meet consumer demand across summer.
“From a flavour/brand demand perspective, water is in significant demand during summer and between October and March is when we produce up to 70 per cent of annual sales.
“This is also the same period where brands launch new editions or promote a seasonal ‘drop in and out’ flavour. As a contract packer for brands and manufacture or Wimmers Premium Soft Drinks, this is an exciting time for us,” Mr Scodellaro said.