Retailers expected the traditional last minute Christmas rush with over 60 per cent of consumers finalising their Christmas shopping in the week leading up to Christmas.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said the customary influx of shoppers in the last week before Christmas will be welcomed news for retailers, who have been suffering for most of the year and are now enjoying Christmas trade and waiting to see the effects of the Rudd Government’s stimulus package.

“With the Rudd Government’s stimulus package finishing its roll out last Friday and the traditional last minute Christmas shopping rush about to begin, retailers who are expecting $37.2 billion in retail sales this Christmas (NSW $12 billion, VIC $8.9 billion, QLD $7.7 billion, WA $4 billion, SA $2.6 billion, Tasmania $781 million, NT $372 million, ACT $707 million) are looking forward to the week ahead,” said Evans.

“Over one quarter of consumers (26.7 per cent) will make their very first Christmas purchase this week and many of these last minute shoppers are likely to be male. Customarily, men don’t enjoy Christmas shopping and they usually delay their first purchase for as long as possible.

"It may seem like a good tactic but often shoppers who don’t plan properly are pressed for time over the Christmas season and become frustrated with crowds and customer service delays.”

About half (50.5 per cent) of consumers will purchase most of their Christmas gifts from suburban shopping centres and a further 35 per cent will do most of their Christmas shopping in the CBD, said Evans. Rather than focusing on larger retailers, last minute Christmas shoppers can avoid crowd delays at the many smaller and independent stores offering generous pre-Christmas sales this year.