It has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit Australia, initiating nationwide lockdowns and panic buying of food, toilet paper, fridges and freezers, as well as tech equipment to enable consumers to work and learn from home.

Most retailers weren’t convinced that the unprecedented demand for household goods would continue throughout the year, but here we are at the end of September and retailers around the country are reporting strong growth across a range of categories, sharing a positive outlook for Christmas, although stock shortages remain a major concern.

BSR Group’s Graeme Cunningham (pictured above) told Appliance Retailer that business is still tracking well despite the uncertainty.

“We are seeing growth across all categories and believe this will continue in the run up to Christmas and into the New Year. There is a lot of activity in the last quarter across footy finals and Black Friday, so we see a positive outlook. However, there are plenty of back orders, particularly with panels,” he said.

Bi-Rite’s Hamza Hussein described 2020 as a “whirlwind” with the retail industry experiencing growth never seen before.

“Financial year to date, we have seen growth in excess of 68% on the same period last year. While that result is extraordinary, lack of stock still remains the major hurdle at present,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“Sell through for the last few weeks has started to taper on the previous period, but is still well in excess of the same period last year and we anticipate a very strong quarter as we enter the busiest trading period of the year.

“During the pandemic, there has been an increase in consumer needs – whether it is improving home entertainment with a large television or connected home devices – there is a desire to improve wellbeing through exercise and invest in appliances which help to improve the quality and flavour of meals through technology such as air frying and steam.

“With lockdowns and restrictions easing throughout the country, we anticipate there will be a significant appetite for consumers to get out of their homes to spend time outdoors, go shopping as well as enjoy a meal with family and friends.”

Videopro’s Scott Govenlock said large screen TV, projectors and home theatre packages remain popular.

“Customers who are not travelling or dining out are upgrading their entertainment system as they are spending more time at home. Bigger is better with TVs at 65- and 75-inch the most requested sizes,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“We are cautiously optimistic that border restrictions and lockdowns will ease before Christmas, but we expect the trend towards online shopping options like click & collect to continue.”

Govenlock also confirmed that shortages and stock constraints are prevalent across many categories, particularly in the premium home theatre market.

“AV receivers, Hi-Fi components and projectors are experiencing rolling delays around factory production volumes, shipping delays, and global component shortages. With some vendors we already have orders in place through to February to ensure our customers can have consistent access to products they wish to purchase.”

Raleru’s Paul Rogers said aside from a few stores in lockdown, Camera House is trading “pretty healthily” with new products driving demand and interest in imaging, particularly in the full frame mirrorless segments with demand exceeding supply in many cases.

“We see strong demand in vlogging and video streaming products attributable to working from home and communicating via digital means, as well as a few surprises with an interest in artistic expression and resurgence in film and printed output,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“We are urging our stores to stock up where they can to ensure stock is available during the busiest period of the year, to encourage customers to be patient but aware that many items are under stock constraints that are likely to continue to Christmas and to get orders in as soon as they can.

“Our new release and pre order products all supported by the Camera House Pre Order Guarantee where if an item shifts in price before release the customer only pays the lower price at release so consumers can purchase early with confidence.”