A new report today from PayPal Australia says COVID-19 will create a dramatic shift to online shopping this Christmas including a desire to buy and support local, and more support for Christmas traditions, especially among the younger generations.

PayPal’s research reveals the amount of online Christmas shopping in Australia is expected to almost double (48 per cent) compared to previous years (25 per cent): a year-on-year increase of 90 per cent. Shopping in-store is set to decrease, with respondents saying they plan to do only half (52 per cent) their Christmas shopping in-store: a 30 per cent year-on-year decrease from 75 per cent of Christmas shopping being done in-store previously.

According to the survey, over a third of Australians say they are more stressed about Christmas shopping this year due to COVID-19 and there is particular concern over the Christmas rush, with a quarter of Australians (24 per cent) claiming they don’t feel comfortable shopping in-store due to crowds this year.

COVID-19 is currently almost non-existent in the general community in Australia, with all local cases reported in the last six days relating to returned travellers in quarantine. The pessimism in the survey likely also reflects the impact of the long Victorian shutdown, which has now lifted. The state has completed 14 days without a single incidence of local transmission.

Still the authors say concerns over COVID are likely driving increased virtual shopping as 36 per cent believe shopping online is less stressful than dealing with crowds in stores.

According to Danielle Grant, Consumer Shopping Expert at PayPal Australia, “2020 has been an unusual year for us all with the pandemic changing many aspects of our daily lives, and Christmas will be no exception. This year many more Australians will shift their shopping behaviour and purchase gifts online, rather than in-store – with safety and security driving this trend.”

Logistics concerns

Australians are also concerned, it seems, about whether Australia Post will be able to deliver all those Cartier watches in time.

The postal service says it is gearing up for what is expected to be the largest parcel volume in the organisation’s 211-year history, so it’s no wonder almost half of Australians are concerned about postal delays this Christmas.

Despite this, only two-in-five Australians are planning to start their Christmas gift shopping early this year to ensure their parcels arrive in time for Christmas, while one-in-four Australians are leaving their Christmas gift shopping to the last minute, within the two weeks before Christmas.

With Australia Post recently announcing that December 12th is the cut-off for parcels to be delivered on time this Christmas, a significant proportion of the country could be receiving their presents late this year if shoppers don’t plan ahead and get online early.

Australians say they want to support local businesses this year with over a third of consumers planning to buy Australian-made gifts where possible. Let’s see if that really happens.

Consumers also indicated they want to give presents with purpose this Christmas, with two-in-five saying giving presents is significantly more fulfilling when they know their gift will make a difference to someone in need. Additionally, over a third of Australians say that, where they can, they’re happy to pay a bit more this Christmas to support Aussie businesses that are doing it tough. (Again, let’s suspend disbelief on this one)

Spending less?

The survey reveals that local consumers expect to spend less this year, coughing up an average of approximately $560 in total on Christmas presents, $59 less than their stated average spends in previous years.

“There is also a growing trend toward fewer, higher-quality gifts, with two-in-five Australians saying they plan to focus on quality over quantity this year. Two-in-five Aussies also say that spending a bit less doesn’t mean they can’t give great gifts.

Finally, when it comes to the gifts that Australians want to receive this year, locally-made chocolates were the top gift, followed by homegrown Christmas hampers, Australian scented candles, soaps or hand creams, and beach gear.

Your humble scribe expects to be re-gifted the Game of Thrones Box set again, for the fourth year in a row. Forgetting to buy me a present has become something of a family tradition in the Birmingham household.

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