Christmas coming earlier than planned this year

Shoppers are already spending much more than usual in November, with fears over delivery delays coupled with significant online discounts leading to a surge in festive gift buying.

Up to 40 per cent of Australians will buy Christmas presents online this month, says AusPost.

And retailers are preparing for a $5.4 billion Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping rush.

Australia Post executive Gary Starr said posties will deliver through the weekend to keep up with the demand.

“It’s the start of the pre-Christmas sale period and we’ve been working hard to ready our network,” he said.

“We’ve got over 45 new and repurposed operational and retail sites up and running, additional planes in the air, over 4000 new team members coming on board.”

November sales will be fuelled by cashed-up shoppers enjoying new freedoms.

Warnings about shipping delays before Christmas have added more fuel to the fire.

Read: Retailers warn against last-minute Christmas shopping

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) predicts pre-Christmas sales will average about $1 billion per day in the lead-up to 25 December.

“For the past two years, November has beaten December as the biggest month for Australian retail sales,” said ARA chief Paul Zahra.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday can be credited with this trend as people snap up some bargains and shop early for Christmas.”

Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events were born in in the US but have been eagerly adopted by Australian shoppers over the past five years.

Read: Last-minute Christmas shopping? Get paid to do it

Economists predict the sales will be bigger this year, already tracking a surge in post-lockdown spending in New South Wales and Victoria.

The $204 billion or more saved during the pandemic will now be spent on entertainment and delayed buying of clothing and accessories, they say.

CommBank data shows retail spending intentions rose by 9.1 per cent in October.

“The end of long lockdowns in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra will drive strong retail spending [in November] to match, or even exceed, last year’s records,” said Roy Morgan chief Michele Levine.

While shoppers will be on the hunt for the best prices immediately out of lockdown, Deloitte’s leader for retail and distribution, David White, said retailers might be less inclined to discount right now, in order to shore up additional costs incurred by supply chain interruptions and loss of business during the pandemic.

A Deloitte survey found 72 per cent of local retailers face higher costs amid the soaring cost of shipping, meaning consumers should be prepared to pay more.

“Retailers are going to try to stay on margin,” Mr White told TND.

“They’ve got to cover all the costs of COVID-safe environments and extra delivery costs.”

The ARA, AusPost and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission are warning shoppers to buy now to avoid Christmas Day disappointment.

Read: Expect parcel delays to continue through to Christmas, says expert

Port shutdowns, industrial actions and surging demand have stymied global supply chains, and 55 per cent of retailers are worried they won’t have sufficient stock for Christmas.

Popular products are also likely to sell out earlier than usual, said Mr White.

“The big manufacturers are prioritising other markets,” he said.

“Europe and North America in particular are getting the lion’s share of the best stuff, so there will be limited numbers [of products].”

Australia Post strikes are making matters worse, with posties already struggling to keep up with deliveries.

The post office has raised $400 million to increase parcel delivery capacity by 30 per cent before Christmas.

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Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.