Going online: a window to how we are shopping this Christmas
View to the past … David Jones may still have its traditional storefront but the emphasis is on online and mobile shopping this year. Photo: Steve Lunam
The poster on the door of the David Jones Elizabeth Street store reads: ''Love giving, Love Christmas. Shop online and instore''.
As passers-by stop to look at the store's Christmas windows, the emphasis on putting the online option before the bricks-and-mortar alternative is telling.
With 29 shopping days until Christmas, the ongoing battle between traditional stores and online retailers has seen a few interesting trends emerge.
Google search trends reveal it is possible to get an idea of which retailers are being tracked down by shoppers.
A search Australia-wide using the term ''online shopping'' shows the rising stars, with more than 5000 per cent growth in search volume in the past 12 months, were clothes retailers Boohoo and The Iconic.
Other brands showing strong growth in search interest were online and traditional store fashion retailer Princess Polly at 70 per cent growth and online fashion retailer ASOS at 60 per cent.
But with 60 per cent growth, David Jones online is also demonstrating it can compete in search interest. Against the might of eBay over the past 12 months though, the presence of David Jones or Myer is insignificant. The lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret, meanwhile, has a higher peak in searches each Christmas since 2009 with this year showing promise of another increase.
Myer chief Bernie Brookes said last week's online shopping promotion, Click Frenzy, exposed the cracks retailers face when trying to migrate their business online.
''We still have a lot to learn generally in this space in how to manage large quantities going into the website and large transactions taking place,'' he said after the Australian Retailers Association awards.
Overall, Mr Brookes said the promotion had been a ''runaway success'', showing major retailers could ''play in the game'' and there was an appetite for Australians to shop with local retailers online.
Mr Brookes also allowed that Myer was expecting a ''flat Christmas''.
Google says this season's biggest opportunity for online retailing is mobile with nearly 40 per cent of shopping-related Google searches now coming from smartphones or tablets. The number of queries coming from mobile devices including tablets has more than doubled over the past 12 months.
Ross McDonald, Google Australia's Industry Leader for Local & Retail, said as consumers branched out from smartphones into new types of devices such as tablets, the mobile revolution was expanding to multiple screens. ''The real moral of this year's Christmas story is retailers need to mobilise, and fast. They need to be found wherever the web is."
Bricks-and-mortar retailers will continue to argue that going into a store provides the shopper with a more personal service and the expertise of trained staff.
A visit to Myer on Thursday showed there were plenty of potential customers about the store. But there were very few staff other than those at the tills. The kitchenware department, for example, was a desert as far as staff was concerned. Hard luck if you need help in choosing a meat thermometer to check if the turkey is cooked.
with Sarah Whyte