Five retailers share their expectations for peak season
For many Australian retailers, the start of November marks the beginning of peak season and all that comes with it: packed stores, products flying off the shelf, big discounts and major online shopping events. The next eight weeks are going to be make-or-break for some businesses, and they have been preparing for it all year. But the latest interest rate increase from the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday is threatening to spoil the party. Will the rising cost of living cramp consumer s
r spending in the most important quarter of the retail calendar?
We asked five retail leaders what they’re expecting from peak season this year. Here’s what Amanda Lunn, commercial director of Big W; Scott Druce, CEO of Melbourne stationery brand Milligram; David Lee, CEO of appliances chain Godfreys; Mindy Espidio-Garcia, director of operations at Amazon Australia; and Rob Godwin, Australasian director of online adult toy store Lovehoney, had to say.
Big W commercial director Amanda Lunn: The early bird gets the worm
“We know Aussie families are shopping Christmas earlier, and that’s why we’re making it easier for customers to not only shop our ranges but also find them at the best prices.
“We’ve already seen customers buying into our seasonal ranges early since launching Christmas in-store and online just over a month ago. We expect these sales to continually grow throughout November as we prepare for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and an exciting toy event. We encourage customers to sign up for our mailing list to be some of the first to hear about new and exclusive offers.
“While many customers have been preparing for the festive season by creating wishlists in our new and improved Big W app, utilising our online Gift Finder to research the best gifts and checking our website for delivery cut-offs, Big W has been busy recruiting new team members ready to help customers navigate the busy period.
“We encourage customers to head in-store or online early this year to avoid missing out and to utilise our many ways to shop including home delivery, pick-up and direct-to-boot.”
Milligram CEO Scott Druce: Gearing up for best-ever peak season
“We are expecting our best-ever peak season sales result across all our sales channels – wholesale, B2B, retail and online. It feels like we’re getting our mojo back after the Covid fog of the past couple of years. We have been planning our peak season since early this year, so I think we’re well-placed to achieve great results.
“For us, Black Friday/Cyber Monday, is the new Boxing Day sale period, it’s the major event of the year. Every day of trade from Black Friday to Christmas is important, so this year we have segmented our promotional calendar into days, not weeks, during peak.
“We’re expecting an especially strong result in our physical stores. We think that many customers got burnt last year with shipping delays around Christmas, so they might be reluctant to shop online, especially in December. Online will still be strong, but more than ever, it will be about a full omnichannel experience.
“It has certainly been a rocky year for resourcing, but we had an awesome pool of talent apply for seasonal roles, and we were able to fill all positions easily. We focused on our Milligram social channels and were able to attract people who are part of our community – people who are passionate about the products we sell. They’re an enthusiastic group of people and we look forward to having the extra help.”
Godfreys CEO David Lee: Premium products at big discounts
“In terms of consumer activity and sales, Cyber Week is a key sales period for Godfreys, which has now overtaken Boxing Day for us. We’ll be participating in Black Friday and Cyber Monday and we look forward to sharing our great deals with customers. This year’s offering has been designed to showcase the breadth of our range, so expect premium products featured at larger discounts.
“Cyber Week gets bigger every year for retailers, particularly with consumers wanting to jump on discounted big-ticket items, like home appliances and consumer electronics, ahead of the Christmas rush. We do expect to see an increase in sales revenue from last year, driven by the premium products featured in the sale this year.
“We will be looking to hire Christmas casuals. We know that footfall across shopping centres, and our stores, will increase, so we want to ensure that we have enough hands on deck to continue to deliver our exceptional in-store customer service experience.”
Amazon Australia director of operations Mindy Espidio-Garcia: Investing in logistics
“This is certainly one of the busiest times of year for us. We know from our research that more than nine million Australians are planning to head online for some or all of their holiday shopping, and they’re anticipating spending more than they did last year. Over $1000, with over $400 of that going to holiday gifts specifically.
“We’ve been busy all year making sure we can serve their needs. We’ve increased our storage capacity by 100 per cent, which means that Australian small businesses have more space to bring in selection for our customers, and we’ve expanded that selection to over 200 million items across 31 categories.
“We’ve got over 2000 seasonal roles for the holidays. We’re quite excited about that. And we’re making holiday shopping easier for our customers as well. We’re extending the returns deadline, so any purchase made from 1 November can be returned until 31 January, and we’re gift wrapping this year, so we’ll send packages directly to your recipients across Australia and globally.”
Lovehoney Australasia director Rob Godwin: Toughest hiring market in 19 years
“We are focusing heavily on Click Frenzy and bringing a refreshed offering to our customers, before launching sitewide promotions during Cyber Weekend. Click Frenzy is the accelerated start we need to kick off the main sales period for 2022.
“We are confident Lovehoney will have the biggest Click Frenzy and Cyber period ever, as Australian consumers are looking for value for money. Also, the growth in the sexual wellness category has resulted in increased sales for our D2C and B2B customers.
“I think pureplay retailers will see sales peak in November, but omnichannel retailers will have some increased sales in the last week before Christmas. Given another rate rise in December, November will be the peak month this year and ongoing.
“Our HR department has worked tirelessly to ensure we have enough seasonal staff. I have never experienced such an acute labour shortage in 19 years in Australian retail. We have offered current and new staff discounted $5 meals every day, free gym and PT sessions, unlimited EAP programmes and the famous Lovehoney staff box with free products for Christmas. Who wouldn’t want this!”
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