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Aussie retailers turn Christmas Grinch


Laine Gordon

By Laine Gordon

3 min read

The Christmas season is known as a time of generosity and giving — something that has generally been borne out by retailers, who tend to start offering more and more discounts in the lead up to the holidays. By offering products for cheaper prices, retailers increase temptation for buyers to start pulling out their credit cards to take advantage of the deals. 

Whether this will be the case this year remains to be seen, however.

"[W]e may see fewer retailers engaging in store wide discounting compared to previous Christmases," stated Deloitte's Retail Review for November 2014. 

Nearly half (49 percent) of those surveyed expected that they would increase their margins this December. With such confidence among retailers, the report predicted that the "slash and burn" discounts that Australian consumers are used to benefiting from over the season are less likely. 

Retailers to start discounting later

Not only could Australians see fewer crossed-out price tags this year, they could also see them popping up on products a lot later. According to Deloitte's survey results, 24 percent or respondents are planning to begin discounting over 27-29 December this year, a higher proportion than in previous years. In 2013, for instance, only 18 percent chose this date as the starting point for discounts. 

Likewise, only 19 percent stated their intention to start discounting in early December — a sharp drop from last year, when 24 percent had planned on doing so. 

This may come as a shock for shoppers used to seeing Christmas come a bit earlier. It's become the norm for Christmas festivities — which not only include tinsel and trees, but the traditional price reductions — to appear earlier in the month, even as early as November. 

Discount-less shopping strategies

This could all present a dilemma for consumers. What's the course of action for those unable to depend on product markdowns these holidays but unwilling to dip into their savings account to make up the difference?

There are a number of smart shopping strategies buyers could try for the silly season. One method is price matching — showing a retailer evidence of a competitor's lower price and asking them to match it. This can be particularly effective when taking prices from online retailers, which tend to offer substantially lower prices. 

In fact, that brings up another point — looking to online stores may bring your transaction account some much-needed benefits over Christmas. While you may not be able to obtain products at short notice, with a little bit of foresight you could make significant savings. 

Finally, you could opt out of store-bought gifts entirely this Christmas, orienting the family toward home-made presents.

For those who are dead-set on pulling out the plastic this December, however, things may not be as bleak as they sound. According to Deloitte, 17 percent of retailers are still to decide on their discount strategy — so there may be hope for the more discount-focussed among us. 

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