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Retailers report strong Christmas sales despite stock constraints

The latest ABS data has shown a 13.3% increase in retail turnover for November, compared to the previous corresponding period, with household goods one of the top performing categories recording 12.7% growth.

So how did November trade – incorporating Black Friday and Cyber Monday – impact Christmas and Boxing Day sales for retailers around the country? Appliance Retailer contacted national retailers to find out.

Bi-Rite

Following a strong Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Bi-Rite was concerned that sales would taper in December. However, in the weeks leading up to Christmas, sales increased around 25% on the previous year with air fryers, mini ovens, manual coffee machines, hand stick vacuum cleaners and 75-inch TVs the standout categories.

But the peak trading period did come with challenges due to increased delays in shipments, particularly for TVs, split system air conditioners, floorcare and refrigeration.

“Given the categories impacted, these are generally high ASP items, which would have otherwise contributed massively towards an even stronger December,” general manager, Abdul Kayum Sacur told Appliance Retailer.

“With most of our stores in regional locations, there was a greater impact felt when compared to our metro stores as there are increased delays and earlier cut-off dates for those delivery runs.”

Although digital forms of advertising experienced a massive increase in effectiveness, most customers continue to come in-store to finalise and confirm their purchases. 

“We are grateful to our suppliers, support office team as well as store owners who collaboratively planned out firm orders further out in advance than ever before to provide us with the best possible platform for growth.”

Camera House

Camera House stores experienced a bumper Christmas with most recording double digit growth compared to the prior year. Online sales experienced similar growth due to a greater reliance on omni-channel tactics.

Lenses and mirrorless cameras were the best performing categories, according to national marketing manager, Kieran Gallagher, as customers embraced speciality photography as a hobby.

“Video continues to be another strong area but interestingly categories like film, telescopes and binoculars have seen massive growth too,” he told Appliance Retailer.

Like most of the industry, Camera House focused on driving deals in November to coincide with Black Friday, which Gallagher admits poses a risk that sales and profit will be pulled away from the Christmas period.

“Despite the lack of travel, which is always an injection of new, excited customers, encouragingly, the momentum was built during November and Christmas sales were stronger than last year with memory making and personalised gifting an important facet of most stores sales, as well as the traditional gifts of kits and new cameras,” he said.

However, there were a few stock constraints, and the strategy was to communicate early to customers urging them not to miss out and encourage stores to stock up.

“This seemed to work well as we leveraged our centralised warehousing and massive buying power to ensure stores and customers could access as much as we could possibly put our hands on. Suppliers have generally been great in this regard with early notice of stock shortages and proactive management of alternatives.”

Leading Edge Group

Over at Leading Edge Group, the year ended well for members with Q4 activity well engaged with, supported by marketing and point of sale packs.

LEG general manager, Charlie Davey (pictured above) said there was a noticeable trend toward online shopping with members who lead in this field doing very well.

“However, we do see continued customer demand for supporting local retailers, especially in regional areas where many of our members operate. Customers want to support their community and are hesitant to head into big malls and national chains – reflecting their want to social distance,” he told Appliance Retailer.

The top selling categories were home entertainment, led by large screen TVs and audio products, as well as drones, with connectivity and communication categories continuing an upward trend as consumers seek the latest and greatest devices.

“There has been slower demand for cooling reflecting the weather conditions, which was offset by dryers. In small appliances, coffee machines continued to be in high demand with the work from home trend, as well as Christmas favourites like SodaStream.”

Davey said stock remained tight throughout the period, but options were available to members to buy, and category heads from HQ worked closely with supply partners to open up opportunities as they arrived.

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