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Shoppers expected to spend less this Christmas, survey finds

Nearly three in five Australians are considering shopping on Amazon this Christmas.

This is just one of the key findings from global management consultancy Oliver Wyman’s survey of more than 1500 people about their purchasing plans ahead of the holidays.

The survey also revealed that 42.8 per cent of survey respondents plan to spend less this year than last. Almost half the population (46.3 per cent) are looking to spend $500 or less, and 70 per cent are looking to spend $1000 or less.

Oliver Wyman noted that according to several third-party sources, Australian consumers in the past have spent between $460 and $600 on average on gifts, and between $1000 and $1300 in total, making it clear that consumers are collectively looking to cut back this year.

Views on spending varies across states, with respondents in NT, WA and Victoria intending to spend marginally less than in other states, whereas those in ACT, TAS and Queensland are the strongest in a set of weak numbers.

Male survey respondents were slightly more bullish than female respondents on their planned Christmas spending. But overall, the figures point to a weaker Christmas trading period than last year, according to Oliver Wyman, which flagged greater pressure on margin through discounting to drive stock clearance.

The survey revealed that value for money is still the dominant purchase criteria for many, with female survey respondents more likely than male respondents to seek value for money. Men placed a greater emphasis on availability.

Respondents said they also consider their values, such as ethical sourcing and sustainability, and the recipient when purchasing, suggesting that while price is important, it’s not necessarily a differentiating factor.

“Having a range that offers surprise and uniqueness also matters, as does considering and promoting the provenance of goods,” Oliver Wyman said in its report.

Three in five will shop on Amazon 

While a portion of Australian consumers have shopped with Amazon for years, this is the first time retailers have had to compete with the online giant locally, and the data shows a majority of shoppers are considering buying from Amazon this Christmas.

Sixty per cent of survey respondents said they intend to give some or more consideration to Amazon, and over 20 per cent of consumers said they will buy many to all of their Christmas shopping on Amazon. This held true across age, with over 65s as likely to shop on Amazon as 18-24 year olds.

Besides their willingness to consider Amazon this year, a third of survey respondents said they plan to use the internet to find goods, though 52 per cent still prefer to buy items in-store. Overseas retailers still represent a threat to local businesses, with 12.6 per cent of consumers looking to use international stores online.

“As stores continue to play a role in finalising purchases, in-store stock availability and customer service in selection decisions remains key to ensuring the conversion of customer sales,” the report stated.

The survey also revealed that 43.5 per cent of survey respondents expect to do their Christmas shopping at the last minute. In its report, Oliver Wyman noted that this suggests there is still a significant opportunity for retailers in the lead-up to Christmas, despite the concern that Black Friday has cannibalised margins.

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