More than 40% of the Christmas hats sold by Christmas markets in Australia were sold online during the last three months of December, according to figures from the Australian Retailers Association.
It comes after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said online sales of Christmas hats fell by 18.3% in the year to December, down from 20.6% in December 2016.
The ACCC said Christmas markets could be seeing more people buy and sell Christmas hats online.
It said there were now “little opportunities to reach out to consumers”.
The Australian Industry Group (AIG) said the ACCC’s report showed “there are some significant opportunities for retailers and manufacturers to improve their online business and meet consumer demand”.
It said that while there was still demand for Christmas hats from consumers, it was “too early to say” whether the market was in an “optimal position”.
“It’s not unusual for Christmas markets to have some strong demand for a particular product,” AIG general manager of retail and consumer research, Robyn Young, said.
“We believe that there’s a significant opportunity for retailers to increase their online sales.”
She said it was too early to know if online sales were on the up.
“There’s always an opportunity to improve the customer experience, and the market as a whole is doing a great job at delivering that.”
Ms Young said the industry had seen “strong growth in the last few years”.
“We’re seeing a strong increase in Christmas markets and that’s what’s been driven by the digital transformation,” she said.
The ACCC said Christmas market owners were working hard to make sure they had a viable business model and that “customers have confidence in their brands”.
“If you’re a retailer or an online retailer and you’re not meeting that need, you’re going to have to find another way of delivering Christmas hats,” ACCC chairwoman Rod Sims said.
Ms Sims said there had been “some very positive announcements” in the Christmas market sector, including “a big boost in demand for our holiday hats” last month.
“The Victorian Government is continuing to make improvements to the holiday supply chain, and we’re working closely with retailers to ensure that their Christmas supply chain is strong enough to meet demand,” she added.
“These initiatives are helping to ensure we can deliver on the promise of Christmas this year.”
The ACCc’s Christmas hats report, released on Tuesday, showed that sales of the traditional Christmas soft hats (cotton hats, poncho hats and winter hat) had fallen by a whopping 40.6%, with the number of hats sold for $49.99, down 22.3%.
The most popular Christmas hats, the Christmas soft beanie and winter beanie, had also been the least popular with just 1.6 and 2.5% of sales, respectively.
Sales of the hard hats, which are traditionally worn with traditional hats, fell by almost 9%.
The report said the trend towards more online sales was likely due to people wanting to have a bit more freedom when buying hats online, as well as increased competition from the likes of Amazon.
The report noted that “the overall trend for online sales is continuing, with the majority of consumers buying online”.
It warned that Christmas markets would continue to be “a competitive market, with consumers wanting to experience a variety of hats, including traditional hats”.
“The majority of Christmas market sales have been online,” Ms Sims added.
She said there was also an increased level of interest in stocking up on gifts for Christmas and New Year.
“While there are a number of potential opportunities for online retailers to build their online businesses, we are mindful of the significant challenges that they face, and there is a need to ensure they can continue to deliver strong Christmas sales,” Ms Young warned.
“This includes ensuring their online presence is robust, and delivering a strong online experience.”
‘I’m so happy’ to be a Christmas market shopper This Christmas, Ms Young has become a Christmas shopper.
“I’ve been in this market for about six months, and it’s been such an amazing experience,” she told News.au.
“You can’t go to a Christmas store without coming to see the traditional craft goods, and Christmas hats.
It’s such a unique and special thing to experience.”
Ms Brown, who is from Queensland, said she has been shopping at the Victorian Christmas market since last year, and was really excited to be here.
“It really has become the place to go for Christmas for me,” she joked.
“When you come to see our traditional Christmas hats and Christmas soft hat, it’s really special.”
She says it is a “special time for me and my family”.
“When I get back to Brisbane next week I’m going to spend Christmas with my family and get ready for Christmas with them.
It is a special time for us.”
‘Happy holidays’ for retailers Ms Young says Christmas markets are “doing well”, despite the