For some, it might be a bit early to think about Christmas gifts and what to buy. The reality is that Christmas is just 57 days away.
Never fear. Mega celebrity and US talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey, 67, is here to help, dropping her “highly anticipated annual tradition” on November 1 of her favourite things to hand out to family, friends and work colleagues for the festive season.
Among the list of post-COVID lockdown gift ideas are a few legacies of the pandemic – tracksuits, one-piece tracksuits (aka the Onesie), tiny backpacks and gumboots.
“When I wear one [Onesie] around the house – which, during quarantine, was every other day, alternating with sweats – Stedman [her partner since 1986] says, ‘Look at you all dressed up, honey’.
“In my mind, the jumpsuit only has one drawback: You don’t want to wait until the last minute for a bathroom break,” she candidly says on her oprahdaily.com website.
“One of the many things the pandemic taught me? I am done wearing high heels,” she said, admitting the “jumpsuit” is “the next best thing to pyjamas”.
The Australian Retailers Association agrees on one thing – it is “the season to shop early”.
“With elevated online sales, suppressed shopping demand, global supply chain disruptions and local delivery issues, the key message to consumers for this Christmas is it’s the season to shop early,” chief executive officer Paul Zahra said.
Winfrey started her Favourite Things 25 years ago, and to honour that milestone, she’s focusing on small businesses, she says, with the largest selection ever.
“After this past year, I think we all deserve some surprises and delights for the holiday season,” Winfrey wrote.
“Extra important to us this year? Celebrating small businesses, women-owned brands and items created by people of colour.”
Her first gift suggestion back then was pyjamas and they’re still a favourite among a “whopping” 110 gift ideas that can be found on her website or directly through Amazon.
According to Glamour magazine, “Winfrey scours the consumer landscape each holiday season in search of the best gift ideas for everyone on your list – it’s a highly anticipated annual tradition”.
Adds the Hollywood Reporter: “Stumped shoppers have looked to the media mogul’s top picks roundup year after year for cool gift ideas, while lucky business owners can now proudly claim their seal of approval (aka marketing gold) by the superstar herself.”
As the COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant issue for many US states with low vaccination rates, and many countries with stubborn daily case numbers, there’s a host of gifts on the list for consumers wanting extra protection.
For example, Winfrey says the Dare to Roam Prodigy backpack is “ingenious”.
“Arming ourselves against germs is still the name of the game, and this backpack is contributing to the fight. It’s made of a special antimicrobial fabric that helps ward off bacteria”.
Priced from as low as $US12 up to $US2300 (the rowing machine), there’s masks, sneakers, hoodies, aprons, faux-fur scarves, more pyjama sets, a hands-free sanitiser machine, an air purifier, and my favourite, a UV wand that waves across dirty surfaces.
“We’re all a little more aware of cooties these days, am I right? That’s why I was so drawn to this UV wand. You just slowly wave it over anything you’d like to sanitise, and, according to the maker, it kills 99.99 per cent of bacteria on the surface. Use it at home or when you’re travelling,” Winfrey said.
Meanwhile, the ARA forecasts Australians will spend nearly $59 billion in the pre-Christmas sales period, which is virtually unchanged from last year, but up 11.3 per cent on pre-pandemic conditions in 2019.
“There’s a lot of Christmas cheer in these numbers, with the overall trend looking positive, and that’s great news for small businesses and discretionary retailers who have suffered through some of the longest lockdowns in the world this year,” Mr Zahra said.
“The Christmas trading period is critical as it’s the time when most discretionary retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits for the year.
“Although the ARA-Roy Morgan data predicts the impact of COVID lockdowns will continue to suppress retail sales, year-end spending in New South Wales and Victoria will bounce back strongly in December.
“And those states not impacted by lockdowns will enjoy a more gradual ramp up in sales growth leading into Christmas. The overall trend is looking positive.”