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Christmas magic at EUROPARK. /// credit: evatrifft
Christmas magic at EUROPARK. /// credit: evatrifft

Wintry start to the Christmas shopping season 

It’s a good and atmospheric start to the pre-Christmas business: that much can be said after the first Advent weekend and a high-turnover Black Week in the previous week. Center operator SES and store owners are entering the coming weeks in an optimistic mood.

The enormous amounts of snow on the northern side of the Alps and road closures led to a more restrained flow of visitors than usual on the first Saturday in Advent. This year is the shortest Advent in the calendar, which means that an additional shopping boost can be expected towards the end of the Advent season.

The first peak frequencies in pre-Christmas business were reached in the SES Malls on Black Friday: over 300,000 people visited the SES Centers in Austria on this day. Visitor numbers in the past two weeks were just above those of the previous year, with the exception of the 1st Saturday in Advent due to the heavy snowfall.

“The winter in the country is boosting the mood,” says Christoph Andexlinger, CEO of SES Spar European Shopping Centers. “We have already been noticing this in the shopping behavior of visitors to our malls since last week. Our shopping partners are reporting consistently good sales and are satisfied with the course of business so far. The past two weeks – Black Week and the week before the first Advent – have been as positive as we had hoped, even though footfall on the first Saturday of Advent was lower than usual due to the extreme weather conditions. We are doing a lot to offer people an unforgettable experience in stationary retail. From the Christmas market with hand-picked products, to the stores with Christmas assortments, to the glamorous decorations in the center. This year in particular, we are receiving more positive feedback from our visitors than ever before – the desire for a positive atmosphere is obviously greater than usual. And we seem to be able to fulfill it quite well. In the shortest possible Advent, Christmas shopping has started particularly early this year.”

Black Friday: Strong focus on Black Week this year

“People were waiting for offers, promotions and bargains this year, especially in the electronics sector,” adds Christoph Andexlinger. Black Friday offers attracted customers across all sectors. However, by extending the offers to the entire week and in some cases beyond, there was a certain equalization and distribution over the remaining days of the week.

The strongest sectors at the start of Advent

The course of business shows that many people are now making their preparations for St. Nicholas and Christmas. The food magnet INTERSPAR in the SES malls has been offering attractive promotions for weeks. All kinds of accessories and Christmas decorations are being bought. Jewelers, bookstores and perfumeries confirm particularly good sales figures. The first Christmas purchases appear to have already been made in the technology and consumer electronics sector. Toy retailers are also satisfied. Textile and shoe retailers in particular are benefiting from the wintry weather across the country. In addition to snowboots and warm clothing, many fashionistas are looking for the right outfits for upcoming Christmas parties – the trend towards glitter and glamor is in particularly high demand. The currently good snow conditions are also having a positive impact on sports retailers – in addition to the purchase of winter sports items, the trend towards renting children’s ski equipment is particularly strong this year.

Unbroken trend for weeks: strong ZEHNER voucher sales

40 percent of Austrians give vouchers as a Christmas present – this was also revealed by the market survey mentioned above. The experiences of the first strong pre-Christmas shopping days show that sales of ZEHNER shopping center vouchers have already taken off: “In the early phase in November, it is mainly companies that buy ZEHNER vouchers as Christmas gifts for their employees. In the private sector, people tend to start buying ZEHNER at the beginning of Advent. Just before Christmas, voucher gifts are particularly popular with last-minute buyers,” confirms Christoph Andexlinger.