By Peter Sheppard
Senior Performance Consultant, Retail Doctor Group 

Hanging for Christmas to begin? The wait begins.

It is that time of the year. For most people Christmas is a time to celebrate family, holidays and many other happy occasions. For retailers generally, the lead-up to Christmas is a period of tense waiting and waiting, for the rush to begin.

As I recall, last year was a much easier waiting period as the rush started earlier, about the middle of November as we were free of lockdowns and we had not had much retail therapy for many months, so we were keen to get into it.

Just as well as most stores were forced to shut again on 15th December.

Is this year back to the prior COVID trading pattern? For many of the recent years, the Christmas rush was getting later and later, condensing in the last 7 to 10 days. It seems like 2022 will be back to that trend, that normal. Retailers are telling me that daily like for like sales are below last year in the first couple of weeks in November and are starting to be concerned that trend will continue well into December.

Most retailers have traded well in the last 6 months or so, and therefore have stocked up well for the strong sales to continue. Forecasters are still saying that we can expect a strong Christmas selling period despite all the uncertainty, strong growth in interest rates and household pressure on disposable income due to about 8% inflation across that wider spectrum.

Whilst on inflation, bear in mind that when comparing sales revenues to last year, they need to be at least 8% higher, if you are to equal last year’s unit sales!! This applies to most categories.

What should retailers do?

All we can do is monitor our progress closely, don’t panic and remain positive. Communicate to your data bases, make sure you have your best sellers prominently displayed, seek to lift your average transaction value by offering excellent service.

Over the 40 plus Christmases that I have been in retail, everyone (other than last year) has been a waiting game and in the end it all came good and sales were close to plan. Here’s hoping that this one will too.

Contact our Performance team on +61 2 9460 2882 or email and we can help you prepare for a successful Christmas.