Positive forecast for Christmas shopping tempered by warning of retail loss

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Christmas Retail Forecast post

The Australian Retail Association has released its festive season predictions, tipping Australians will spend over $50 billion on Christmas shopping over the coming weeks, marking a 2.8 per cent rise on last year.

Meanwhile retailers are urged to maximise their security over the period, with 35 per cent of annual retail loss incurred during the busy holiday.

So what’s ahead in the coming weeks of Christmas retail?

Big figures

Released on November 14, the 2017 predictions for Christmas retail are positive, with Australians set to spend $50 billion on shopping between November 15 and December 24.

The figure marks a 2.8 per cent increase on sales across the same period last year, but is less than the 4-5 per cent increase many in the industry had hoped to see.

Among those enjoying the benefits will be online retail, which is expected to gain 3.96 per cent this year.

The predictions also note:

  • The food sector will increase by 3.27 per cent to sales of $20.284m
  • Household goods will be up by 2.37 per cent to sales of $8.704m
  • Apparel sales will increase 0.54 per cent to sales of $3.89m
  • Department stores will see a rise of 0.99 per cent to $2.957m
  • Other retail will enjoy a rise of 3.96 per cent to $7.184m
  • Hospitality will be up by 2.89 per cent to sales of $7.052m

Meanwhile, the state expecting the biggest retail boost is Victoria, with Christmas expenditure set to increase by 3.87 per cent.

Big relief

Australian Retail Association (ARA) Executive Director Russell Zimmerman welcomed the news, noting the rise in retail came after a tough couple of months for Australian store operators.

“Although we have seen retail sales slowly decline across all categories, we believe Christmas will see this year’s trade improve for many Australian retailers,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“There may have been a lot of change throughout the industry this year, but one thing is for sure, and that’s the fact that Australian’s love Christmas, as Christmas is the season of giving.”

Big loss

Christmas may be the season of giving, but it’s also one of taking according to the Retail Holiday Season Forecast, which last year noted Australian retailers incur 35 per cent of their annual retail loss during this period.

This figure comprises shoplifting, employee theft and fraud, but also extends to loss making activities such as markdowns.

The report noted: “Most stolen items during the holiday season are items that are easily concealed (batteries, razors), easily removed from packaging (skincare, cosmetics) or required for entertaining during the Christmas season (liquor, fresh meat). Other items that were reported as most stolen include children’s toys, nappies and quilt covers”.

The study further states Australia incurs the highest holiday season retail loss in the Asia Pacific region, ahead of Japan at 31 per cent, mainland China at 30 per cent and Hong Kong at 30 per cent.

Prevention strategies

Experts note Christmas is the time to ensure in-store security is up to par, utilising a range of technologies like EAS, surveillance, staff training, and good store layout.

But they stress it’s also critical to have a comprehensive insight into inventory using available tools like RFID and advanced data analytics.

The top loss prevention strategies that should be vigilantly employed over Christmas include:

  • Good staff screening – Ensure all staff, including Christmas casuals, have been reference-checked thoroughly.
  • Staff training – All staff should be trained on proper store procedures that include meeting and greeting customers, and watching for key signs of suspicious behaviour.
  • Secure store layout – Ensure high value items are kept within easy monitoring of staff, and there is a clear line of sight to all areas of the floor.
  • Secure cupboards – Provide your staff with easy access to storage cupboards through smart locks that enable them to serve customers quickly and effectively, but mitigate the risk of key loss.
  • Use your EAS – All items should be tagged with tags of sufficient magnetic strength, while smaller items need to be labelled. If you are finding tags removed, your EAS is telling you security needs to be improved.
  • Use your RFID – RFID gives you an insight into stock levels, loss, where an item is in the chain of supply, and inventory holdings. Use it to ensure you have adequate items on hand while balancing the issue of too much stock that leads to loss through markdowns.
  • Employ surveillance – Visible surveillance like CCTV cameras acts as a direct deterrent against theft

Christmas 2017 may not be everything Australian retailers had hoped for but looks set to prove a welcome boost after a year of change and lower sales figures. Now it’s up to retailers to maximise the opportunity with effective store management and security technology that works to minimise any loss.

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