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Shoppers flock back to shops, leaving online retail in the dust

·Finance reporter
·3-min read
Dozens of enjoy enjoy a sunny day in the CBD outside a historic building and beside a tram. (Source: Getty)
After being forced to do almost all shopping online over the past 18 months, a new report predicts that consumers will head back to the shops with a vengance. (Source: Getty)

Bricks and mortar retailers are set to get their wish from Santa, with consumers expected to abandon their online shopping carts and flock back to shopping centres and strips to do their Christmas shopping, a new report predicts.

It follows periods of enforced trading lockdowns over the past 18 months across the country, especially in Melbourne and Sydney, which has forced customers to shop online.

The Accenture 2021 Consumer Shopping report, released on Tuesday, showed people wanting to get out of the house and see, touch, and smell products before buying them.

Concerns about shortages and delivery delays would also drive people back to the shops, the report said.

“Consumers are ready to splash out on themselves and family but also giving back to the community,” Michelle ­Grujin, Accenture managing ­director for Australia and New Zealand retail, told The Australian.

“It would be nice to see ­occasion shopping and apparel come back with a bang … when we are able to plan events and parties, we will see a shift and a remarkable shift.”

Christmas gifts bill leaps $246

A red AusPost delivery fan is parked outside a building. (Source: Getty)
Lockdown-inspired online shopping has been a boon for AusPost and other delivery services, but it has caused a significant backlog, too. (Source: Getty)

Consumers are also predicted to spend an extra $246 on Christmas gifts this year, up from $819 in 2020.

Older Millennials are expected to drive this trend, with their budget peaking at an average of $989.

Retailers have been eager to discover whether consumers will largely continue to shop online or return to brick and mortar stores following easing of restrictions in the hardest-hit states.

In September, Jana Bowden, an associate professor of marketing at Macquarie University, told the ABC she believed the “monumental shift to online” would “not be reversed post-pandemic”, pointing to recent research that showed eight in 10 Australian households expected to continue shopping online.

Dozens of people wearing face masks line up to scan QR code to ender David Jones store. (Source: AFP/Getty)
Melburnians flocked back to retail stores in late October when restrictions lifted following its sixth lockdown. (Source: AFP/Getty)

The Christmas period is the most important for retailers, which is a time when many actually turn a profit. This year’s holiday season is more important than ever, following such a challenging couple of years.

Online shopping soared during Sydney and Melbourne’s record lockdown. Australia Post was inundated with deliveries, forcing them to take on more workers and delay parcel deliveries.

More than 200 employees were forced into isolation after being exposed to COVID-19 and a truck-driver strike worsened the situation.

In August, Citibank released data revealing that Australian consumers increased their online shopping spending during 2020/21 lockdowns.

This was confirmed by an AusPost report that showed consumer growth was up 4.7 per cent during June 2021 - compared to 2020 - and was 11 per cent higher than just the previous month.

Consumers were metaphorically swiping their credit and debit cards on home and garden shopping (up 37 per cent); hobbies and recreational goods (up 31 per cent), baby products (31 per cent increase year-on-year); and food and beverages, which rose 32 per cent.

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