How shopping has changed for Christmas 2021

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How shopping has changed for Christmas 2021
Industry analysts are expecting supply chain disruptions to continue into 2022 and beyond.
Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

Consumer shopping behaviours have undergone substantial, long-lasting change since 2019.

More people are conducting their shopping online and earlier than ever as a result of concerns about supply chain and availability.

The emergence of the global pandemic and its impact on supply chain distribution has created long-lasting effects in consumers around the globe, with Australians’ shopping behaviours particularly influenced by concerns about supply chain reliability. Even as lockdowns end and restrictions ease, the habits learned throughout the last two years promise to continue their trajectory for years to come.

Mirakl’s global research across nine countries in Australasia, Europe, North America and South America has analysed consumers’ behaviours around shopping for the end-of-year holiday period. The findings show that supply shortages, shipping delays, and pandemic-related concerns around in-store shopping and crowds have driven a huge surge towards online shopping between 2019-2021, both in Australia and abroad.

While Australian consumers had the lowest online shopping rates globally in 2019, conducting just 24% of their shopping through eCommerce, by 2021 that number had almost doubled to 42%, showing how quickly and emphatically Australians have taken to this mode of shopping. Importantly, while much of the increase initially occurred during 2020, rates of online shopping have continued to rise in the last year, up 7.6% from 2020 to 2021 (39% to 42%) .

Powered by the ongoing retail supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic, this rapid – and continued – adoption of eCommerce by Australian consumers will only continue to accelerate, as shoppers spend more, and earlier, online to ensure they’ll get the products they need when they need them.

Consumers shopping earlier than ever before

The key out-take for Australian consumers is that to be ahead of the game for their Christmas shopping, they will have to continue to shop earlier than ever before, and factor in the increased use of online marketplaces to find the products they want. We’re already seeing this happen in 2021: according to our research, the impact of supply chain disruptions, unreliable stock availability and a desire for greater certainty has led Australians to start their Christmas shopping earlier than almost any other country this year.

More than half of Australians (51%) report that they’re shopping earlier in 2021 than in previous years for Christmas gifts, and Australia leads all other countries in preference to have Christmas shopping done early. The trend towards early Christmas shopping is largely driven by the desire to avoid shipping delays, with almost half (46%) of our Australian survey respondents reporting this as their main consideration. Concerns around over-crowded spaces are another major driver for early Christmas shopping with 57% of Australians starting their shopping before Black Friday to beat the rush. It’s the end of the road for last-minute shoppers: just 1% are planning to shop on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.

A shift to online marketplaces

As Australian shoppers spend more of their money online, not all eCommerce sites are created equal. The shift to online shopping has led to a surge in the use of online marketplaces and third-party sellers, as consumers look for options that can meet their growing expectations around convenience, competitive pricing, and speedy delivery.

Globally, consumers have embraced the use of third-party sellers with 94% of respondents planning to continue or even increase their frequency of shopping on online marketplaces. This is consistent with trends in Australia, where 71% of consumers are likely to purchase their Christmas gifts through third-party sellers on online marketplaces. Marketplaces are particularly popular among high-frequency online shoppers, who shop online at least once a week. On average, these consumers conduct the majority (57%) of their overall online shopping through marketplaces, showing that savvy shoppers are more inclined towards marketplaces.

The main reasons Australians cite for the shift towards online marketplaces? Better prices, thanks to competition between third-party sellers; better product selection sourced from a wide range of sellers; and faster delivery due to more products locally available and in-stock.

With industry analysts expecting supply chain disruptions to continue into 2022 and beyond, it is clear that the surge in online shopping is here to stay. And as consumers and retailers alike continue to encounter out-of-stock products and shipping delays, online marketplaces will take an even greater share of that spend. The challenge for retailers now is to ensure that they are prepared for the new digital-first retail landscape – and to identify how online marketplaces fit into their eCommerce strategies. While the integral risks associated with the pandemic will eventually pass, the shift to online looks to be a powerful and permanent future trend that retailers need to address.

Joe Sawyer is CMO at Mirakl.

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