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Shoppers head online for Christmas

A new study has found that shoppers will head online again this Christmas to find bargains, by-passing traditional bricks-and-mortar stores.

According to the Australian Financial Review (AFR), a survey of 400 consumers by Adobe has found that 76% of respondents were attracted by lower prices and good deals online, while 49% found free shipping to be attractive.

Adobe managing director for Australia and New Zealand Paul Robson has predicted a significant jump in online shopping from mid-November, especially around the national Click Frenzy event on November 19 and 20, which could see online purchases double.

“Price topped variety, availability, and convenience. Consumers used to see big box chain stores as synonymous with lowest price, but now online is just one big box,” Mr Robson has told the AFR. He added that Adobe is expecting the biggest online shopping day will be Green Monday, the second Monday in December, when sales are expected to jump by more than two and half times the usual level.

Mr Robson also noted that many consumers are shopping online with their mobile phones while in a physical store, and the retailer with the best price wins.

However, price is not the only factor when consumers go shopping. Convenience, ease of returns, service, warranties and brand loyalty also play a part in driving consumer sales, and could see bricks-and-mortar stores win out over online stores. There’s also the physical aspect of shopping in a traditional store, where consumers can touch and feel a product – something they can’t do online (yet).

Russell Zimmerman from the Australian Retailers Association agrees, saying ‘It wasn’t all about price, particularly in a last-minute Christmas rush. If I want something now, it’s going to be difficult to get a consumer to buy online. People are also looking for service.

Mr Zimmerman also says while many people shopped online, there are now many more Australian retailers with active online stores, as well as offering other channels for consumers to shop through, including mobile sites and apps. Australian retailers have been slow to capture online sales, but have been running at breakneck speeds to setup and fine tune their digital stores. Among those include David Jones (ASX: DJS), Myer Holdings (ASX: MYR), Harvey Norman (ASX: HVN) and JB Hi-Fi (ASX: JBH).

Foolish takeaway

While many consumers will be heading online for their Christmas shopping, bricks-and-mortar stores have expressed confidence in the shopping period ahead. I suspect both will be in for a good Christmas, as consumer confidence picks up.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

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