Packed shopping centres and abundant consumer spending seems unbelievable in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Still, healthy savings from working at home, government assistance and reduced travel have primed Australian households to splurge in 2021.

With overseas trips predicted to be off the cards until next year, the increased discretionary spending enjoyed by retailers towards the tail end of 2020 could last another year.

Late last year shoppers took full advantage of Black Friday and Christmas sales. It shows – Openpay had its biggest quarter ever, up 96% in total transaction value with customers taking advantage of spreading the cost of their sale items across into 2021, interest-free.

But while consumer spending may be up, customer experience is more important than ever. The pandemic overwhelmed customer service and caused delivery delays. In 2021, customers will be craving convenience, utilising digital channels to get what they want, when they want it. 

Businesses that can save customers time, guarantee availability, and reduce the number of shopping trips needed, and offer the greatest payment flexibility will see the greatest returns, and benefit from a boost to brand loyalty in the long term.

So, what will be some of the bigger sellers this year? Here are my predictions.

Outdoor fun for the whole family. With overseas travel a no-go and holiday budgets being used for local adventures, Openpay predicts a jump in sales at the likes of Anaconda as people treat the family to new camping gear, and SurfStitch for water and boardsports.

Home renovations. Property values are skyrocketing across the country, with first home buyers taking advantage of government subsidies to purchase and renovate their dream home.  The home renovation craze will continue well into 2021 with Bunning’s hike in sales a testament to this ongoing trend. Other popular retailers will include Total Tools, Barbeques Galore and as people continue to update their homes, inside and out.

Homewares. Our recent research pointed to bed linen, towels and home decor as the types of purchases that bring people the most satisfaction. I’d expect the likes of Kogan, House and Godfreys to be busy all year round.

Pet treats. The influx of pets purchased in lockdown aren’t going anywhere, but we might be. With kids back at school, and some of us returning to the office, I’d imagine owners will be indulging at the likes of PetHouse and PetStock for some treats for their new pooches and felines.

And finally, time to treat yourself.  Making time for ourselves is more important than ever, with a little retail therapy being just the thing! Fashion retailers like Peter Alexander, Bonds, Bras N Things, Kookai, Glue STORE, Just Jeans and Taking Shape will see an uptick in spending.

Sonia Nixon is head of retail at fintech, Openpay