Australian consumers are forecast to spend more than $7.9 billion on Christmas gifts alone this year, an increase of $100 million on 2012, according to new research from Commonwealth Bank.

This festive season the money will money spent on holidays ($4.3 billion) and entertaining friends and family at home ($2.2 billion) are expected to see increases of $600 million each year-on-year.

But more noticeably, despite access to more bricks and mortar stores, those living in capital cities are more likely to do their Christmas shopping online than those from regional areas (31 per cent versus 26per cent).

According to Adam Bennett, executive general manager local business banking of
Commonwealth Bank, businesses can expect a positive finish to the year during the peak holiday season.

“My advice for businesses is to ensure they have enough staff and stock to cover both pre and post-Christmas shopping to help maximise returns over this crucial trading period,” he said.

The research also showed men are planning to spend more on entertaining friends and family than women ($386 versus $301).

Those aged 18 to 24 will spend more on festive vacations than their Generation Y counterparts aged 25 to 34 ($1,046 versus $814).

Although businesses are expecting their online and bricks and mortar sales to increase – anticipated to be up seven per cent and four per cent respectively – the most important factor impacting success over the Christmas period are having a healthy cash flow (81 per cent), accurate sale forecasting (63 per cent) and accurate prediction of stock requirements (59 per cent).

“While businesses are clearly looking forward to the busy Christmas trading period, the last thing they need to be worrying about is cash flow,” Bennett said.

“In order to gain immediate access to their funds businesses should ensure they have same-day settlement on their merchant transactions during this busy period.”