Shop Talk: The Satchelnomics of Sales
By Liz Burke
While our festive countdown is just about done, there’s still one extra window to open on the retail Advent calendar. For some, quite sadly, Christmas Day would be more aptly titled Clearance Eve.
However, retailers have had a less fun build-up to their “most wonderful time of the year” experiencing an incredibly slow Christmas shopping season in one of the worst years for the retail sector in decades.
Though around 75% of retailers are trading below last year’s profit levels, the Australian Retailers Association reported yesterday, with incentive, sales have improved marginally in the last-minute lead-up, but not at the level of profit they can generally expect at this time of year.
Ongoing 36-hour, nationwide trading marathons should make an impact, and you’ll have no doubt noticed unusual aggressive discounts popping up before their post-Christmas due date as the past week has seen shops deck their shelves with boughs of bargains in a desperate bid to claw back ailing profits.
While The Courier Mail has raised speculation that early markdowns will mean discounts of up to 70% at major department stores as soon as Christmas passes, from a seasoned sale-time shopper with a pretty good understanding of the system, I’d say this is unlikely. Stores know that Boxing Day will draw the crowds, some shoppers treating it like a sport, with Christmas Day’s sunset heralding the beginning of the season.
Some high street stores have started their clearance already, so there’s no point hanging out for traditional sale-time savings; if you see racks of mismatched clothes on crappy hangers with a big red sticker or a cross through the original price, it’s unlikely they’re going to be any cheaper after the crowds of big bargain hunters are let loose on their stampede into stores.
It’s also worth noting that the application of those little red stickers isn’t the work of elves, and shop bosses are rarely so cruel to keep their staff in overnight or on Christmas Day to adjust prices. So leaving Christmas shopping 'til the 11th hour could actually see you score a bargain, as shop boys and girls will be shooting those sticker guns and rushing with those red pens to get out of there and kick start Christmas (or “day off”) celebrations as soon as stores close this evening.
Although online sales have been a major culprit in the money-making blame game, Myer has decided it can’t beat ‘em, instead joining the ranks and starting its clearance tonight online at 8pm tonight.
Despite the slow build-up, the ARA is expecting an increase on last year’s sales from Boxing Day to early January. If you’re planning on making their Christmas wish come true and contributing a few pennies to the $6.97 billion that’s expected to be spent, it may be worth going in with a game plan.
Load up your satchel with water and snacky sustenance to keep up your shopping stamina, wear comfortable clothing and footwear and something you can easily change in and out of if you plan on trying on, be aware of return policies and constantly ask yourself “do I really want/need this?”, and keep in mind what you’re spending, or have already spent this Christmas season rather than what you could save.
It’s easy to get caught up in the mayhem of clearance sales and a stampede of women let loose armed with credit cards and baited by big red percentage signs can make for a dangerous combination. The golden Boxing Day rule: play nice.
Senior GWAS contributor Liz Burke has Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Business (QUT) and has written for The Courier Mail, The Sunday Mail and ABC News Online.