COVID has changed much of what we’ve come to know and enjoy over the past few months, and the jury is out – Christmas shopping will be no different! According to Rioma Cominelli, Director at First Loyalty Plus, the kind of Christmas shopping we have become accustomed to will look very different this year. “Stringent household budgets coupled with COVID-19 regulations will spearhead buyer behaviour changes this year,” she says.
Rioma shares what to expect when shopping for Christmas:
1. More people are expected to shop online: The lockdown period allowed people to explore online shopping more often than usual. Data and insights company, Nielsen, found that 65% of South Africans shopped less at physical supermarkets due to COVID-19, but noted that of the existing online shoppers, 29% of them increased their online shopping. It is an indication that more people have become more comfortable with online shopping and is a trend that we will continue to see as it offers convenience. One way to get ahead would be by taking advantage of the ‘wishlist’ option offered by online stores. You can use this in the meantime to slowly tick off all your desired purchases leading up to the festive season.
2. Christmas shopping is starting earlier than ever: According to insights company, Trading Economics, August retails sales increased by 4% compared to the previous month. This is partly due to relaxed lockdown regulations, but sales continued to rise in September as retailers noted that people started their Christmas shopping early. If you have not yet started, now would be a good time to do so. Shopping early, especially online, will ensure that your package arrives in time as the big surge in online shopping is likely going to create bottlenecks in the delivery process.
3. COVID-compliance is not going away: We are still in the middle of a pandemic and retailers will now have to pay special attention to the number of shoppers allowed in their stores, sanitisation and the use of masks, not just by their staff, but the shoppers too. If you are planning to shop in a mall, be prepared sanitise at every entrance of each store. Also, remember that you may have to wait in a line as retailers have to follow the 50% capacity rule. So, It’s best to go early, carry a sanitiser and hand cream!
4. People will spend less: Survey’s all over the United States and the United Kingdom show that shoppers will be spending less this Christmas. South Africa is unlikely to be any different. We were already facing an employment crisis before the pandemic, but things have worsened as 3 million South Africans lost their jobs over the lockdown period. Given that there is less money to go around, it may be worth your while to create a shopping list for everything you plan to buy. Remember to make room for festive meals, outings and of course, gifts for your loved ones. A list and budget will give you a clear indication of how much money you’re going to need. You can also join loyalty programmes, either with your retailer or with an independent programme like the First Loyalty Plus, which will allow you to get so much more for less!
“We are in uncharted waters, so all South Africans need to work together. Patience and understanding from shoppers, retailers, suppliers and delivery companies, is crucial for this period. The best thing for customers to do is to stay prepared and start early,” concludes Rioma.