Finance Consumer Christmas in October? Only if you want your presents in time
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Christmas in October? Only if you want your presents in time

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Christmas has come around quicker than hot cross buns in January, and as the pandemic continues its domino effect onto our postal service, retailers have warned consumers they need to do their online shopping now – or risk being the Grinch on December 25.

Already, 59 per cent of Aussies say they’ve experienced delays on their mail, according to a survey by Power Retail.

Throw in another statistic – that 78 per cent of Australians are starting their online shopping now – and that’s one busy, drawn-out delivery period for Santa.

For those who have the luxury of money to spend, it’s itching a hole in their pockets, Jana Bowden says, marketing associate professor at Macquarie Business School.

Graph: Power Retail

“Savvy businesses are capitalising on this opportunity pushing consumers to spend even earlier in the lead up to the festive season spend period,” Professor Bowden told The New Daily.

“The launch of Amazon Prime Day (on Tuesday was) just one example of how retailers are swooping in to take advantage of the online shopping boom.”

She pointed out, due to the pandemic, online shopping is five times the rate of traditional retail sales growth, and the seasonally adjusted spend for online retail has increased some 81.1 per cent year-on-year.

“No wonder Australia Post is under the pump to deliver,” Professor Bowden said.

Australia Post earlier this week set its deadline dates for guaranteed parcel deliveries.

Hike for carbon footprints

For many consumers right now, online shopping is not only the safest but the only choice when it comes to purchases beyond the necessities.

As the national postal service Australia Post buckles with the strain, the environmental footprint of a single online purchase – even bought with good intentions – is turning from green to red.

The packaging, delivery and then the possible return and re-ordering of the item all adds up, especially when many items are being re-routed through interstate distribution centres to help alleviate backlogs with Australia Post.

Amazon shopping
Busy times in an Amazon Prime warehouse – and this isn’t even Christmas.

“One in five consumers are concerned about the impact of online shopping on the environment and when you drill that down to the younger tech savvy generations like Gen Y that number skyrockets to one in three,” Professor Bowden said.

Sure, there’s some retailers who are choosing compostable or reusable packaging, but it’s not widespread, she said.

“To me it looks like a missed opportunity for online retailers,” Professor Bowden added.

“Retailers may just be looking down the barrel of the next opportunity to target consumers – sustainable packaging focused on betterment of our environment.”

Be your own Christmas hero

We’ve only just started the sales season with Amazon Prime Day.

There’s still Click Frenzy and Black Friday ahead – both of which, sure, can offer good deals on big ticket items.

But at a time when everyone is doing it tough, business ethics academic Martijn Boersma says shoppers should pay attention to what their dollars are supporting.

“The economic benefits of your Christmas shopping spree will be greater if you buy locally. See if you can find stocking fillers made in Australia,” Dr Boersma, of the University of Technology Sydney Business School said.

“The earnings made (and taxes paid) from locally produced goods are more likely to benefit the Australian economy. If you have your eye on something produced overseas, you should try and get the item from a local retailer.”

slave labour
‘Modern slavery’ includes child slavery, human trafficking, forced prostitution, forced criminality and domestic servitude.

Dr Boersma specialises in addressing and trying to dismantle modern slavery, an industry that feeds off a consumer hunger for cheap and affordable – often disposable – goods.

“It is important to realise that no elves or reindeer are involved in making and transporting gifts,” he told The New Daily.

“People should spare a thought for people on assembly lines, warehouse workers and delivery drivers that are under extreme pressure to get orders filled and delivered.

“While our Christmas shopping may benefit the economy, it is important to be critical of the social and environmental costs of mass consumption, production and materialism.

“If you are in a position to do so, buy something durable, sustainably produced or recycled.”