Retailers seem optimistic about this year’s Christmas period with an expected year-on-year growth of 4.7 per cent, totalling $38.7 billion moving through the economy via retail sales.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman said the current retail cycle was not what it was last year with a previous total spend of $36.95 billion (an increase of only two per cent from 2007). He added that 2009 is an improvement, but remains challenging as 72 per cent of retailers found last week’s trading met or was below expectations.
"Although last week’s trading did not rise above expectations for most retailers, 65 per cent said last week’s trading was similar to or better than this time last year,” said Zimmerman.
“The fact that retailers are expecting better sales than last year but are not yet meeting their targets shows there is optimism, although a significant portion of retailers are still hampered by patchy trade.
"The reality is that three successive interest rate rises are affecting consumers who are now less confident," he said.
According to research among key sector retailers, national Christmas retail sales will hit $38.7 billion, up from $36.95 billion in 2008. The national category breakdown includes food ($15.47 billion), department stores ($3.21 billion), apparel ($2.71 billion), household ($6.58 billion), hospitality ($5.06 billion) and other ($5.67 billion).
State by state, Christmas 2009 retail sales for NSW are projected to be $12.6 billion, VIC $9.3 billion, QLD $8.1 billion, SA $2.7billion, WA $4.1 billion, TAS $812 million, NT $386 million and ACT $735 million.
"Over the Christmas season, retailers will experience fair trade but it will be below their expectations," said Zimmerman.