Australians tipped to spend billions on Christmas, as sales ease woes

Consumer sentiment has been tracking at low levels for two years and is showing few signs of material improvement.

Consumer sentiment has been tracking at low levels for two years and is showing few signs of material improvement. Photo: Getty

Australians are expected to spend more than $30 billion this Christmas, with people spending just shy of $1500 each on average.

Last year, the average Australian spent $1361 around the holidays, whereas this year, it is expected each Aussie will fork out $1479.

Gift giving alone is expensive, but some people need to travel to visit family and friends, and putting on a Christmas lunch can also be hard on the wallet.

Finder’s research found that consumers will spend $533 on average for flights and accommodation for Christmas, which is up 16 per cent from $458 last year, $373 on gifts, $249 on food, $133 on eating out and $192 on alcohol – equivalent to $3.9 billion across Australia.

To put things in perspective, Australians spent $27.3 billion last year, and based on what the 1061 respondents revealed in the survey, as a nation we could be spending well over $30 billion this year.

Dr Angel Zhong, a finance academic from RMIT, told The New Daily she believes shoppers aren’t necessarily buying more items this year.

“I do think that inflation is at play,” she said.

“That increase in the amount of money that Australians are projected to spend, the majority of it is actually driven by inflation, and the increasing prices across the board.”

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra told The New Daily that based on its research, which is conducted alongside Roy Morgan, people are expected to spend $66.8 billion in the November to December Christmas trading period.

Australia has had two record Christmas periods in terms of spending, he said, and while consumers will still be spending, there will be some winners and losers this year.

Household goods and clothing sales are declining, but food – meaning supermarkets – and department stores are on the up.

“Customers will still shop. It’s Christmas. They’ll still have the joy of Christmas,” Zahra said.

“But we do believe that customers, Aussie households, are doing it tough. They’re going to be looking for value. They look for special deals.”

Be prepared to get in early for value buys. Photo: Getty

How to save this Christmas

It feels like it’s a lifetime away but it’s really not.

Christmas is just around the corner and when stores start dusting off decorations and pull out holiday items, take that as your sign to start planning.

Both Zhong and Zahra suggested planning ahead to save a bit of money, as did Sarah Megginson, money expert at Finder.

“The festive season is a notoriously expensive time of year and household budgets have already taken a battering,” Megginson said.

“Christmas and all the associated costs can lead to a lot of financial stress, so it’s ideal if you can start budgeting and planning ahead now, to spread costs out over a couple of pay periods.”

In just a few weeks time, Australians will have their chance to score some good deals.

“We do believe that we’ll have another record Black Friday as a result,” Zahra said, adding that consumers want to feel as though they are getting greater discounts and value.

To make the most of the sales, he suggests putting together a list of potential gifts to keep an eye out for when the sales roll around.

He also added while everyone is doing it tough, retailers are more likely to offer discounts this year compared to last.

pictured is Black Friday Sales ahead of Christmas

Australians can get their Christmas shopping done during the Black Friday sales.

Both suggest using the sales as way of getting ahead with any Christmas shopping and Zhong adds this can help with budgeting for the long term, as that is the key to long-term financial wellbeing.

“Festive-season spending can be really exciting. But always keep in mind your long-term budgeting plan so that you don’t deviate, no matter how much you spend in a short run,” she said.

However, unsavoury people don’t rest.

Zhong warns consumers not to fall for any scams, as some people might use them to exploit unsuspecting consumers.

“We’ve seen so many cyber security breaches and scams happening lately,” she said.

“We just had Click Frenzy and we will have Black Friday really soon. So this is also the period where consumers need to be super vigilant because a lot of consumers tend to receive a lot of marketing via emails or text message.”

Travelling for Christmas

The same rule for gift buying applies for air travel – if you want to save a bit of money for a trip over Christmas start planning now.

Whether it’s an overseas holiday or visiting family or friends interstate, if you want to get the best airfare, snap up the cheap seats quickly.

“The way that tickets are sold is as it gets gets closer to to the day of travel, many of the cheap seats are sold out because people tend to buy the cheap seats first,” said Zhong, adding it is the same with accommodation.

But if you do end up planning an impromptu trip or something happens and you need to a plane ticket a few days out, try booking the first flight out, she said, as that generally is the most affordable.

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