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Only 2 weeks of shopping left until the fat man comes down the chimney. Really? Yes, really people.

Those who say “my gosh where did this Christmas thing come from, I didn’t see it coming!” always surprise me. Christmas is 25 December, every year.

But while the date remains the same, festive trading has experienced some twists and turns over the past few years.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key influences on Christmas trading - Boxing Day Sales, giftcards, the GFC effect and e-commerce and how they shape when, where and what we buy.

Boxing Day Sales

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Keen shoppers wait for the doors to open this morning. Picture: Sarah Matray Source: Herald Sun

Last year, hardcore shoppers gathered out the front of stores in Australia as early as 6.30pm Christmas Day in Melbourne’s CBD because they didn’t want to miss out. When the stores opened at 5am on Boxing Day it was a stampede. The Herald Sun reported that shoppers were set to save up to $600m across Australia, making it a critical retail trading period.

Whilst NZ doesn’t enjoy (or dread) such a frenzy with our doorbuster approach, Boxing Day Sales certainly support an entire industry around giftcards. Whilst there are no NZ specific statistics on gift card sales, NZ Retail reported that in the UK, sales have grown 10% annually.  In my own experience as a retailer, we saw YOY increases of 5%+ annually with massive spikes pre-Christmas. Research indicated that the overwhelming driver was not giving a ‘get-what-you-really-want’ gift but giving a gift that could make money go further in the Boxing Day Sales.

Increasingly retailers are starting their Boxing Day sales pre-Christmas, some as early as the start of December which I think is just dumb; shoppers aren’t that stupid.  But many big box retailers do get a true jump on the opportunity via their online stores enabling shoppers to snap up bargains on Christmas Day, before the doors open in their bricks and mortar store the following day.

GFC

The GFC was tough for retailers and created a drive for more and more promotional activity to get someone, anyone, into a store. In an attempt to pull through whatever sales opportunities were in the market, retailers trumped their own plans and their competition all the way to Christmas. In prior years you could actually stick to your promotional trading plans and manage stock availability from early November and then from the 16th December onwards reap greater margin rewards as shoppers filled their last minute Christmas stockings.

What this did for subsequent years was to train shoppers to wait as better deals would come out mid-December.  Retailers became anxious when foot traffic didn’t eventuate early and pushed out even more activity creating a weird cycle many now want to break. There is no incentive to get in early to grab a bargain, or ensure stock would be there.

E-commerce

In NZ, we buy from overseas websites, and not pay GST or customs duties unless our purchases cost more than NZD $400.  And doesn’t online shopping give us a window to the world?  More variety, special product, branded properties and aggressive pricing. We can get our overseas Christmas gifts shipped right to the door without ever touching them.

Watch out if you are only starting to shop now as it’s a little too late to order from some overseas sites.  But if Christmas has crept up on you, then this is my parting gift to you for the festive season, a list of my favourite festive gift buying websites.  Oh, and why not set yourself a calendar alert for 25 December 2014? 

Happy Holidays.

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www.greenwithenvy.co.nz

Brilliant gift ideas and you can order up until 18 December to ensure delivery before Christmas.

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www.jinx.com

If you have a little person obsessed with Minecraft, this is the site for you. Officially the site for gamers and geeks I have purchased way too much from this site for my wee boy this year including Minecraft lego so he can have a different type of Minecraft fix.

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www.pointwines.co.nz

Simon and Jacquie Mackenzie have developed quite a tasty selection of over 600 wines and it they love it, they sell it. They are so great they have been recognised by Metro Magazine as one of the best specialist wine stores. I’ve found I can simply describe to them the person or the taste and Simon pulls together the perfect gift and get it delivered to you or the recipient in no time. And if you need a location to meet for a Christmas catch-up near town and want something more intimate and cool, they also operate Stafford Road Wine Bar, only 5 mins from Auckland’s CBD in Northcote Point.

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www.livingandgiving.co.nz

Always one of my favourites for Ecoya candles and other trinkets. Sign-up to their database and you often get to enjoy free of $5 delivery. Prompt and reliable. Last orders 15th December for delivery before Christmas.

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 www.jamiekay.co.nz

Brilliant and different gifts from the little people in your life right through to friends and yourself. And you can enjoy free shipping every day in NZ.

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www.collected.co.nz

Leeann Yare is an amazing retail curator. I do find that when I am on this website I tend to buy more gifts for myself rather than anyone else.

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www.smithandcaugheys.co.nz

I have to be honest that the only think I have bought from this site is Benefit product as special gifts for a friend this year as it has only been operating since mid this year. Brilliant to finally have a comprehensive department store online.

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www.myer.com.au

If, like me, you have people in Australia to buy gifts for this is the smoothest and easiest way to shop. You have until 17 December to have your orders delivered in time for Christmas and there is free delivery for orders over $100. And they gift wrap.

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www.countdown.co.nz

The only place to shop to get all your Christmas festive treats and groceries delivered directly to your door. A no brainer. And if you type “XMASBONUS” in the coupon code box when you checkout you’ll get 100 Onecard bonus points everytime you shop and spend over $100 before Sunday 29 December.

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www.watchismo.com

I have this on good authority from my colleague, Fiona, that this is a breeze. Found her significant other a watch (hope he doesn’t read this blog), ordered online from site, shipping confirmation within the hour, quoting delivery 7-17 days but it arrived on her desk in NZ in 4 days. Plus free shipping worldwide. And it’s a fabulous watch.

 

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