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The Australian retail sector is cautiously optimistic about the current Christmas spending season, with shoppers expected to spend $53 billion in the six weeks leading up to Christmas.
According to the Australian Retailers Association, these figures will deliver a slight increase on last year and are a welcome boost for an industry which had endured a tough 2019.
Here’s an insight into how that spending will shape up and what retailers can do to maximise the opportunity.
In total this year’s anticipated revenue of $53 billion is up 2.6 per cent on revenue over the same period in 2018.
That’s a modest increase compared to years gone by, but should deliver at least a little Christmas cheer to a sector which has experienced muted figures over recent months.
Last year the sector anticipated $51 billion in expenditure, which was a rise of 2.9 per cent on 2017.
So, where and when will this year’s expenditure occur, and what are people looking to buy?
Food is set to command the greatest spending, with Australians tipped to fork out $21.68 billion on festive fare. That’s an increase of 3.2 per cent on the same period last year.
Household goods are next on the list, reaping an $8.8 billion revenue reward for retailers (up 0.6 per cent on 2018).
That’s followed by clothing, with an estimated $4.17 billion to be spent on clothing, footwear and accessories (up three per cent on last year), while department stores will take a $2.975 billion slice of the retail pie (up a modest 0.5 per cent on 2018).
Almost $7.65 billion will then be spent on “other retail,” which encompasses online, and is set to deliver the strongest increase (3.7 per cent) across all retail categories.
Meanwhile, hospitality is in for an expected $7.45 billion boost (up 2.3 per cent on 2018).
When it comes to which states are tipped to spend the most, New South Wales leads the charge. They’re expected to spend $16.78 billion (up two per cent on 2018).
Victoria is next in line, spending $13.84 (a three per cent rise on 2018), then Queensland with an expected spend of $10.62 billion (up 3.6 per cent on 2018), Western Australia with $5.52 billion (up 1.7 per cent), South Australia with $3.42 billion (up 2.1 per cent), Tasmania with $1.06 billion (up 2.3 per cent), the ACT with $984 million (up 2.6 per cent) and the NT with $490 million (up 0.4 per cent).
As retailers embrace the season of spending, a couple of major trends are emerging which require extra preparation. These include:
Click and Collect
Also known as Buy Online Pick Up In Store or BOPIS, this trend allows consumers to embrace the speed of online and the convenience of physical retail. Over the holiday season, many customers are expected to utilise the service to take advantage of a sale, and then pick up the item at a time that suits.
Retailers can prepare by ensuring their omnichannel offering is up to par, and their staff and POS systems are ready to accommodate the trend.
Tip: Establish a Mobile POS Kiosk comprising tablets and tablet holders which are dedicated to servicing the BOPIS demand.
Cutting the queue
Although the stores might be busy, customers still expect efficient service and a streamlined sales transaction. Again, this is where tablets and mobile POS come into play.
Tip: Set up extra mPOS terminals or arm your staff with mPOS tablets to shorten time spent in the queue.
Sufficient staffing and suitable training
A frictionless customer experience will be key to harnessing the sales period to best effect. Ensure your store is sufficiently staffed and employees are well trained in customer service, product knowledge, available stock, and store procedure.
Tip: Arm your staff with tablets to allow them to quickly research on behalf of the customer, input customer loyalty details and offer upselling suggestions.
Genuine shoppers aren’t the only ones seeking a deal instore. Increased foot traffic means increased shoplifting, so train staff accordingly and ensure loss prevention strategies are state of the art.
If stock has been advertised, customers will expect to be able to buy it in store. Double check stock levels and incoming orders to accommodate expected peak shopping days.
Tip: Automate your reordering process for when products run low, or establish automatic alerts at the mPOS to ensure staff are aware of low stock and items are reordered quickly.
Harnessing the power of tablets in store is simpler and more affordable than many expect, requiring just a small investment in hardware like iPads, stands and secure enclosures, and easy to utilise software such as mPOS apps.