Clothes and shoes, domestic trips and technology are at the top of the Christmas shopping list this year, a report by AMP Capital Shopping Centre says.

The eight edition of the A Pathway to Success, which tracks Australian attitudes to spending and presents insights from leaders in the retail industry, finds that consumer optimism is starting to look up despite challenging retail conditions as they do no expect to spend less against any of the 18 retail categories surveyed.

The research, conducted by retail experts Directional Insights, also found in a majority of categories, the number of consumers planning to shop ‘in-store only’ either remained stable or increase, as shoppers admit they prefer to make a trip to the stores when they are buying everyday fashion, big-ticket furniture and electrical items and household goods.

At the same time, while online retailing is a persistent trend, bricks and morater retailers that offer strong in-store experience are gaining reniewed interest from consumers.

AMPCSC managing director Bryan Hynes said this indicates an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers to retain and broaden their customer base provided they offer a superior in-store experience.

“Retailers must not view a return to shops as a licence to continue ‘business as usual’.  While online retail is often convenient for certain items, there are signs of shoppers returning to stores who can give them an in-store experience,” he said.

“It’s all about putting the theatre back into retail.  To get the right experience retailers need to understand their customers, the experiences they are looking for, and how best to engage them.”

When looking outside their own spending and predictions the actions of other shoppers, those surveyed predicted an increase in spending on services and leisure such as theatres, bars, hairdressers and beauticians.

The report also found shoppers consider value for money, innovation in products and service and trust in brand when making purchasing decisions.

It found women were more likely to recognise brands as value driven, trusted and innovative and that younger Australians tended to trust brands more than older age groups. For example, Bunnings Warehouse was seen by 69 per cent of women as value driven compared with 60 per cent of men. This suggests retailers might have to work a little harder to persuade men to open their wallets.

The report also includes insights from five leaders of Australian retail: Lorna Jane, Cue, Lush, Luxottica and the Coffee Club.

Lorna Jane CEO Lorna Jane Clarkson said: “Christmas is one of our busiest periods at Lorna Jane, and we are once again looking forward to a positive increase on last year’s sales.  To find success throughout Christmas trading, it is integral to make gift-giving as simple and speedy as possible for your customers.

“It is about providing fuss-free shopping through informative Christmas catalogues, and in-store visual merchandising with gift options, gift packs and gift cards clearly on display.”

Lush Australian Director Mark Lincoln said: “Retail conditions have certainly been challenging this calendar year but those retailers who have focused on providing innovative products – and an in-store experience which focuses on the individual customer – have done well.

“As long as these retailers maintain their focus on the customer and support their frontline teams, they will be rewarded with strong revenue increases in the Christmas season.”