Australians plan to splurge $4bn in Boxing Day sales

Survey predicts record online sales as shoppers avoid crowds amid country’s Covid outbreak

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Record online sales are expected on Boxing Day as coronavirus-conscious shoppers buy with their browsers rather than join the crowds.

Shoppers have been tipped to spend $4bn – more than last year – in stores and online, based on Commonwealth Bank data.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive, Paul Zahra, predicted the online record.

“The big difference this year will be an even heightened level in online shopping because some people want to avoid crowds,” he said.

“We still expect crowds but people will be more organised. There will be less browsing.”

Zahra said he expected total sales to exceed last year because people could not, or would not, spend their money on overseas travel during the Covid pandemic.

People had also saved money after spending more time at home, he said.

Australians spend about $60bn a year on overseas travel and this money is being spent other ways.

“Lockdowns have eased and there is new reason to shop,” Zahra said.

“We’re celebrating with family and enjoying the outdoors.”

The Commonwealth Bank survey of 1,005 people found 69% were planning to buy something on Boxing Day.

The average spend planned was $557, which was 14% higher than last year.

Clothing is tipped to be the most popular purchase.

Technology, home electricals and white goods were next on the shopping list.

While many shoppers will be seeking bargains, online businessman Paul Wigger warned of misleading advertising.

Ads promoting discounts of about 80% often only applied to select products being phased out, he said.

“Make sure the deal runs storewide and not on select product lines,” he said.

Other goods will be in short supply.

Woolworths group boss Brad Banducci, whose responsibilities include Big W, this month said some toys and consumer electronics were proving difficult to source.

Some overseas manufacturers have struggled to keep up with demand during the pandemic.

The Australian Retailers Association tipped the buying frenzy would continue through the holidays.

The association and research group Roy Morgan tipped sales to 15 January would improve 2.1% on last year.

Cafes, pubs and restaurants would have the greatest improvement, to be up 10.7%.

Retailers will encourage mask wearing and social distancing as virus infections climb.

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