Get ready to do your Christmas shopping early
Shoppers need to make online purchases well before the end of November to ensure gifts they intend to send to a loved one arrive in time for Christmas Day.
Australia Post has set a December 12 postage deadline to guarantee parcels will be delivered before Christmas Day and December 19 as the guarantee for Express Post deliveries.
Typically, Australia Post's parcel service delivers within two to three business days in metropolitan areas, but the pandemic-driven boom in online shopping has played havoc with timelines.
Lockdowns in all states during the year followed by Victorians being closeted for weeks on end following a second coronavirus wave that caused undue delays in deliveries.
It's also allowed consumers to become more accustomed to purchasing online.
The issue is not just consumers needing to post parcels, destined for interstate, by December 12 but first ensuring their online purchase arrives within enough time for them to forward it.
In August alone, Australia Post moved 600,000 more parcels than for the corresponding month last year and with the prospect of some interstate borders remaining closed until the end of the year, Australia Post is expecting its busiest festive season yet.
Australia Post's Executive General Manager of Business Gary Starr said their parcel service had been under extreme pressure during the middle of the year when staff at its Victorian processing facilities were reduced to just a third because of coronavirus.
He said they've cleared out the backlog but still encouraged people to factor in enough time if they're intending to receive an online order only to wrap it, add a card, and then re-post.
"We are encouraging people to plan their Christmas shopping early," Mr Starr said.
"There will be lots going on in November with sales like Black Friday, and people will want to take advantage of the sales.
"We are hiring 4000 more people to help us through what we know will be our busiest Christmas ever we've ever seen in terms of online shopping."
He said letters to North Pole need to be posted by November 26 to give Santa enough time to reply before Christmas.
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said consumers needed to buy as early as possible and if they can afford it, to pay for tracking or express shipping.
The alternative is to pay a little extra and have the present gift wrapped and shipped directly to the person who would be receiving the gift.
"We are seeing a lot of online retailers offer gift wrapping and direct shipping, so maybe get it sent directly but buy off a reputable retailer," Ms Lamb said.
The explosion in online purchases may be attributable to lockdowns and retailers closing because of a lack of foot traffic but it is now here to stay, says Queensland University of Technology marketing professor Gary Mortimer.
He said online retail sales have been consistently growing at somewhere between 10 to 15 per cent over the last several years but that has doubled this year.
"It's estimated by 2021, Australians will have spent $39 billion online and that's about a 34 per cent increase year-on-year," he said.
He said November had now replaced December as the biggest retail sales month and that had been propelled by sales events like Cyber Monday and Click Frenzy.
"I don't think many people factor in how busy November is and how busy the postal service is during November and having them shipped directly to the person you're buying the gift for, maybe easier. "
Originally published as Get ready to do your Christmas shopping early