Christmas shoppers reveal priorities

The ‘Buy Australian’ ethos that has surged in this pandemic year is receiving a fresh push from Christmas shoppers, research shows. And supermarkets are making sure they give their customers what they say they want.

In a recent Woolworths survey, 76 per cent of respondents said they would make a conscious effort to buy Australian-made items this Christmas.

In the survey of more than 1000 respondents, 94 per cent said it was “just as or more important than ever” to support Australian farmers and producers, and 85 per cent said it was important whether a product was locally made.

Woolworths director of buying Paul Harker said: “Customers have made it increasingly clear they care more about buying Australian-made products this Christmas following the extraordinary circumstances of the last 12 months.”

Coles has an Australian First Sourcing Policy, which mandates it source 96 per cent of fresh produce from supply partners in Australia (excluding floral, nuts, dried fruit, sauces, dressings and packaged salads). It says 100 per cent of fresh lamb, pork, chicken, beef, milk and eggs and 100 per cent of Own Brand frozen vegetables were Australian grown.

Aldi has an ‘Australia First’ supplier policy, which commits it to buying locally unless the desired product isn’t available at the required quality or volume. It says that of its 1200 suppliers, 1000 are Aussie-owned. IGA is also committed to an Aussie first policy.

In other news, supermarkets – now well versed in shopper demands (think COVID panic buying) – are ramping up for a Christmas buying surge with extra staff and increased delivery options.

Woolworths says it has employed an extra 15,000 staff and increased its delivery options through partnerships with Drive Yellow, Sherpa and Uber.

It has also increased its number of instore windows for online collections.

Coles says it has rolled out a range of measures to better handle Christmas demand.

Coles spokeswoman Martine Alpins told the Herald Sun it was encouraging customers to plan their shop early and take advantage of extended trading hours as well as “more than one million … click and collect slots”.

“We have reduced the price of our delivery fees and doubled online capacity in the lead-up to Christmas,” she said, “and we’re extending the hours home delivery and click and collect is available both early in the morning and late in the evening.

“We are employing thousands of additional team members over the Christmas period and will have more checkouts open to avoid queues.”

Grant Ramage, merchandising director at Metcash Food, which is behind IGA supermarkets, said the company had employed more people in its distribution centres and would increase the number of trucks on the road to service stores.

He said that because IGA stores were independently owned, opening hours over Christmas would be “at the discretion of shop bosses”.

Woolworths said it expected to sell the equivalent of 44 busloads of turkey before 25 December, plus 1.7 million kilos of half leg hams, 500 tonnes of brie and camembert and 5.2 million pavlova bases and nests.

Despite concerns a lack of fruit and vegetable pickers may affect stock levels, the supermarkets told the Herald Sun they were confident “their robust supply chains meant shelves would remain filled”.

Check your Woolworths’ Christmas trading hours here and go to Coles for more information on its trading hours.

Will you do your supermarket shopping early this year?

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Written by Janelle Ward

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