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A very covid christmas

As we roll into November, we start to see Christmas decorations appear in shopping centres, but with such an unprecedented year, will Christmas also be unprecedented? As Victoria slowly opens up, and catches up to the rest of the country, will retail be able to recover the time spent in hibernation as people get ready for Christmas shopping? Coming into this Christmas season, sentiment for gifting has changed with nearly 1 in 5 Aussies saying they don't want to receive any gifts (up for 10% in 2019) and overall Aussies expecting to receive less this Christmas. This may be due to the financial strain people have felt due to Covid with 23% of respondents from a different survey worrying about being able to afford Christmas gifts.

Online vs retail

In Australia, an Oracle Retail survey has reported that our shopping habits for Christmas have changed this year with an increase of people looking to online stores to do their Christmas shopping. Only 31% of respondents are planning to do their Christmas shop in store, with 43% opting for online and brick and mortar shops, and 14% click and collect. A lot of people will be shopping online for the first time as there may be some fear to head into shops, so online retailers need to ensure it’s easy for those new online shoppers.

If they do head in store, consumers are hoping that shopping centres operate different this Christmas - with 80% wanting to see visible cleaning efforts, 74% want to see a reduced number of people in stores and 66% listing contactless checkout as important. Interestingly, 60% said it was important to have staff and customers wearing masks which seems surprisingly high as Victoria is currently the only state with mandatory masks.

Local wins

However, it’s good news for local businesses as Aussies plan to increase spending to support local businesses. This has been an ongoing trend during the pandemic and will most likely continue into Christmas.

Local tourism will also benefit, as state borders start to open up. States with less restrictions such as WA & QLD have already started seeing a surge in tourism to their hot spots. Let's hope that after borders open for Christmas, that some of the $30B spent in tourism from international tourists can be recuperated.

Mental health and the festive season

It's also not just the spending that will be different this Christmas, with PureProfile reporting that feelings of loneliness in Australians during the festive season have doubled since 2019, to 15% and negative feelings about the season are also up from 8% to 13% this year. This is no surprise as the lockdowns and restrictions have affected a lot of people's mental health during the pandemic. Let's hope that the easing of restrictions and state borders opening will ease some of those feelings.

Sylvia Jahn


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