Nightmare before Christmas: Shops packed, shelves stripped
Brisbane's biggest shopping centres are being inundated with customers and stock is flying off the shelves, as postage delays send consumers rushing to stores for Christmas gifts.
In a boom for the industry that was devastated by COVID-19, Queenslanders are forecast to spend $11 billion in the six weeks in the lead-up to Christmas, as retailers hire thousands of staff to cope with demand, while some owners report around a 220 per cent growth.
Customers yesterday were circling for at least 15 minutes for a car park at Chermside, Indooroopilly and Carindale and shelves at a number of stores were cleared out of merchandise.
At all three major shopping centres yesterday retailers said they had been busy, with customers saying they were scrambling to get Christmas gifts sorted before the school holidays started.
Experts said postage delays had also seen consumers go to the shops in droves earlier than usual, amid fear presents ordered online will not arrive in time.
QUT retail expert Professor Gary Mortimer said December would see "really strong" figures in physical retail, with people opting for the traditional Christmas shopping experience.
He said while the year had reported a significant acceleration of online shopping as a result of the pandemic, many consumers will move instore, giving retailers a much-needed boost.
"While online shopping is convenient and easy you don't have the same festive traditions as getting into the centres," he said.
"NAB's online retail sales index shows Australians will spend 40 billion online this year - a 34 per cent growth on last year … online retailing has always ticked along at about 12-15 per cent.
"That momentum has really challenged Australia Post and other couriers as consumers are very cautious about shopping online for this week."
The Australian Retailers Association yesterday warned orders needed to by finalised by Saturday, December 12 to give couriers a chance to deliver them in time.
Australia Post delivered more than 40 million parcels in November - at least six million more than the same time last year.
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb said the four day blitz from Black Friday to Cyber Monday also provided a lot of momentum for Queensland retailers heading into December.
"The early estimate is that over $3 billion was spent across Queensland retail in the final two weeks of November," she said.
"This puts the state's retailers on track for the $10.6 billion we forecast to be spent throughout Queensland during the Christmas period.
"The vast majority of shopping still occurs within physical stores and we think this will remain the case this Christmas.
"Aside from concerns over possible postal delays, many consumers crave a more wholesome shopping experience which can only be obtained in-store."
Stores are continuing to hire thousands of Christmas casuals to keep up with demand, with places like The Prop House reporting a 220 per cent growth.
"We're desperately racing trying to keep up with it all," owner Jano Kotzas said.
"We're paying about 60 casual staff each week … its twice as busy as last year.
"I never would have predicted this."
Myer national talent acquisition manager Kimberley Lawrie said more than 340 Christmas casuals had been hired in preparation for the busy period.
"We are so excited by our 'Live your Love of Christmas' campaign this year, and we have had an overwhelming response since it opened in September," she said.
Gift shops like the Tropical Chocolate at Chermside and The Somewhere Co at Indooroopilly said they were already busy during the week, and preparing for hundreds of customers on Boxing Day.
Ella Blanck, 17, was sent to do the Christmas shopping for her family at Queen Street Mall, finding the afternoon busy.
"You can really tell that Christmas is around the corner," she said.
"I do shop online but only for sales really, but then to go and try on clothes I prefer to go in store."
• Order from Australian retailers with normal post delivery by Saturday, December 12.
• Order from Australian retailers with express post delivery by Saturday, December 19.
Originally published as Nightmare before Xmas: Shops packed, shelves stripped