The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said they remained hopeful the Rudd Government’s $10.4 billion stimulus package, set to land in consumer’s pockets from today, would stimulate consumer spending just in time for Christmas.

ARA executive director Richard Evans said after successive months of stagnant growth, Australia’s retail sector is looking forward to any spending boost from Prime Minister Rudd’s early Christmas present.

“Despite recent survey results predicting many people will either save their bonus or use it to pay off debt, we’re optimistic this will be a different story when the money lands in pockets. 

“Consumers look forward to enjoying the gift-giving tradition of Christmas and after months of struggling they are now finally enjoying some relief with lowering interest rates and petrol prices. The Rudd Government’s bonus may come just in time for shoppers looking forward to Christmas retail therapy after some tough months,” said Evans.

“To stimulate economic recovery, we need to reinvigorate consumer sentiment and start the upwards trend for consumer spending, allowing funds to flow through the rest of the economy. If consumers stop spending, jobs are at threat because employment is the easiest expense for business owners to cut during tough times.”

The ARA has said all along that the rate increase in November 2007 was yet to be felt through the economy when the premature and damaging February and March 2008 rate increases were announced. Unfortunately our predictions were correct. But recent RBA interest rate cuts show that the underlying foundations of the Australian economy are strong and consumers should be confident to spend responsibly and enjoy Christmas 2008.

“Without relying on credit and with some responsible spending, Australian consumers should feel confident to enjoy the upcoming Christmas season.

“The government has done its job, the RBA has done its job and if we’re in this crisis of confidence together it’s now up to consumers to do their job – shop for Australia,” said Evans.