Feast > gifts this holiday season
Retailers around Australia are tightening their belts in anticipation of the upcoming holiday rush as shopping forecasts reveal the not-so-joyous sales projections.
According to the latest numbers released by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), holiday sales between mid-November to 24 December are expected to reach $39.5 billion, a mere 2.2 per cent higher than last year’s sales.
“Industry categories which traditionally count on the festive season as their biggest trading period will be bracing themselves for more of the disappointing trade they have experienced over the last eighteen months,” ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said in a media release.
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A retailer survey administered by the ARA between 4-22 November found that more than 60 per cent of retailers are expecting fewer sales. Because of the common customer preference of lower prices over quality in-store service, more than half of these retailers plan on slashing their prices closer to Christmas.
“In 2011, Australian shoppers have been savvy, seeking out the best value for money, the best range and the best service. This trend is anticipated to continue through Christmas," said IBISWorld General Manager (Australia) Karen Dobie.
Department store items including apparel and footwear are expected to drop by as much as 1.9 per cent, and hospitality may drop by 0.8 per cent. What might come to the rescue, analysts and retailers say, is another interest rate cut.
“... [Survey respondents] said a December interest rate cut will boost sales in the lead up to Christmas because of the relief will coincide with the time people shop for their Christmas items,” Zimmerman said.
However, the news isn’t so dark for all retail sectors: Zimmerman sees sales increasing for those whose products help put on a celebration.
“... household, food and other retailing are all set for a boost compared to last year, showing shoppers will more likely opt to spruce up the house and put on a family feast rather than put any more presents under the tree,” Zimmerman said.
ARA’s 2011 national Christmas retail sales: $39.5 billion (up from 2010 - $38.6 billion): National category breakdown: food $16 billion (up 3.4%), department stores $2.9 billion (down 1.5%), apparel $3 billion (down 1.9%), household $7 billion (up 1.5%), hospitality $5.1 billion (up 1.8%) and other $5.6 billion (up 4.2%).
ARA’s State by state Christmas 2011 retail sales: NSW $12.0 billion (up 0.8%), VIC $10.1 billion (up 1.5%), QLD $8.1 billion (up 1.5%), SA $2.7billion (no change), WA $4.5 billion (up 8%), TAS $833.5 million (up 1.8%), NT $421.7 million (up 2.5%) and ACT $739.5 million (up 1.7%).
Timeline: India takes unicorn leap with six in five days
We chart an historic week in India’s tech industry, where in just five days, between 5-9 April 2021, the country achieved six new unicorns, bringing India’s total to 10 in 2021 to date, an immense unicorn leap from just seven in 2020 and six in 2019.
April 5: Meesho
India’s first social commerce unicorn, Meesho raised US$300m from SoftBank, Facebook and Shunwei Capital, giving the Bangalore-based startup a US$2.1bn valuation, a threefold jump from its previous funding round in 2019. Founded in 2015 by two IIT-Delhi graduates, Meesho connects producers and resellers, helping small businesses sell through social media. It has 45m customers and has enabled 13m entrepreneurs to start their online businesses with no investment.
April 6: CRED
Founded just over two years ago, Bangalore-based credit card repayment app CRED raised US$215m from Falcon Edge Capital and Coatue, nearly trebling its valuation to US$2.2bn from its January US$80m round. Allowing customers to pay off their credit card debt while earning CRED coins which they cash in for rewards, CRED has grown rapidly during COVID-19, doubling its customer base to nearly 6 million in a year.
April 7: API Holdings / Groww
The first epharmacy startup to gain unicorn status, PharmEasy (API Holdings), which has digitised 60,000 brick and mortar pharmacies and 400 doctors across India, raised US$350m in a round led by Prosus Ventures. Founded by four former Flipkart employees as a way of making investing simple, investment platform Groww became India’s second-youngest fintech unicorn, raising US$83m in Series D funding led by Tiger Global, quadrupling its previous round in September.
April 8: ShareChat
New Delhi-grown social media startup ShareChat, founded in 2016 by Mohalla Tech raised US$502m from Lightspeed Ventures, Tiger Global, Twitter and Snap taking its raised total over six rounds to US$766m and pushing its valuation to US$2.1bn. The funding will be used to grow its user base and short video platform Moj, which launched in 2020 following TikTok’s ban in India. The regional language startup claims 280m users.
April 9: Gupshup
AI-led conversational message startup joined the unicorn club after raising US$100m from Tiger Global giving it a ten-fold valuation of US$1.4bn. The smart messaging platform, which has seen accelerated growth during the pandemic, was founded in Bangalore in 2005 by serial entrepreneur Beerud Sheth, whose online freelancing platform Elance is now listed. Gupshup’s API enables 100,000+ businesses to build messaging and conversation experiences across 30+ communication channels.