Australia a nation of last minute Christmas shoppers

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Christmas will seemingly catch millions of Australians off-guard this week as they make a last minute beeline for the shops, according to analysis by NAB.

Credit and debit card transaction data from 2016 indicates that Saturday 23 December will be the bumper day for shoppers in the week before Christmas, with Australians tipped to make more than 30 million purchases and spend more than $2.7 billion in a single day.

Of the $2.7 billion, more than $318 million will be spent in retail stores, $137 million on hospitality such as restaurants and cafes, and $85 million on fuel as families prepare to travel to Christmas functions.

While more than 15 million transactions totalling $1.1 billion will be made in bricks and mortar retail stores in the four days before Christmas, the preference for online shopping continues to grow. Online spending rose by almost 20 per cent over the Christmas and New Year period.

Food orders recorded the highest growth in online sales last year, up 3.5 per cent across the month of December. Aussies can also expect to receive more experience-based gifts, such as concert and sporting tickets, under the Christmas tree, with a 7.8 per cent rise in online purchases across the arts and recreation industries in recent months.

NAB General Manager of Transaction Services, Simone Van Veen, said the online spending boom was reflected in the growing number of people logging in to online banking over the festive season.

“We’re predicting internet banking to peak at 3pm on Wednesday 20 December in the lead up to Christmas with a record 3 million logins,” Ms Van Veen said.

“This is up more than 35 per cent on the pre previous year. Around 72 per cent of these logins will be made from mobile phones while shoppers are on the go.

“And in the rush for last minute gifts on the final weekend before Christmas, we’re also expecting to see a three per cent increase in mobile banking logins from Australia’s 50 biggest shopping centres.”

Sunday 24 December is predicted to be the peak day for spending on food and drink, as Australians stock up on the final touches for a Christmas feast.

“It’s pretty clear that Aussies love working to a deadline,” Ms Van Veen said. “We saw more than 9.7 million purchases at the supermarket checkout on Christmas Eve last year valued at $595 million.

“And with Christmas falling on a Monday this year, there’ll be even more incentive for shoppers to leave it to the end of the working week to finish their to-do list.

“Looking at past years, spending will likely peak at around 1pm on Saturday, so my advice would be to get to the shops early or make use of evening trading hours.”

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