With the silly season in full swing, the annual Christmas poll by AMP Capital Shopping Centres (AMPCSC) is revealing Kiwi shopping patterns in Auckland (Botany Town Centre), Tauranga (Bayfair) and Christchurch (The Palms) from the perspective of both consumers and retailers – and identifies some surprising habits in the lead-up to this 25 December.
Fifty-five retailers and 270 consumers were closely questioned on their expectations for spending and intentions this Christmas, and the responses were clear:
- Retailer confidence is extremely high – by late November, retailers across all three centres were tracking higher pre-Christmas spending in their stores than at the same time last year; 55% of retailers say they are expecting better than last year for their sales;
- While gift card purchasing has not declined from Christmas 2014, retailers report that consumers are tending to avoid “taking the easy option” and are putting more thought into specific, personal gifts; 67% of retailers say there has not been a spike in gift card/voucher sales, and 41% of consumers say they are not spending more on gift cards this year;
- Consumers say they are spending more this Christmas than in 2014, while sticking to their usual traditions and staying close to home; 58% of consumers say they’re doing what is traditional for them;
- Consumers say they’ve budgeted better going into this Christmas and are spending more because of this planning; 44% have saved the amount they wanted to for Christmas;
- On average, consumers say they plan to spend between $550 and $700 in total, including gifts and Christmastime food and beverages;
- Most Christmas shopping is driven by convenience of location, with 59% of consumers opting for the shopping centre that is closest to their home or work, regardless of variety of stores;
- Nearly half of Kiwis are inspired to give more widely at this time of year, with (49%) of respondents saying they are donating either time or money.
Bronwyn Anchor, an AMPCSC centre manager and a retail veteran of eight Christmas seasons, says consumer financial planning means a bumper season for retailers.
“A number of retailers are trading their socks off, and indicators of both centre sales and foot traffic across the Auckland, Tauranga and Christchurch centres are all strong. We’re also seeing that people started their shopping much earlier than usual this year, which means though sales are strong the overall vibe is less hectic – the traffic seems steadier throughout the day and into the first late nights of the season.
“It’s a heartening trend that indicates that possibly the typical stress has lessened for shoppers, while retailers are still happy with what’s going on at the till.”