The National Retail Association (NRA) has today welcomed Australian Retail Index figures suggesting that overall retail sales were up 6.88 per cent during last week’s Chinese New Year celebrations, compared with the same week in 2015 (with last year’s Lunar New Year falling later in the month), as fashion retailing led the charge with a spike of 14.7 per cent.

NRA Chief Executive Trevor Evans said retailers were in a unique position to gain a greater slice of the tourism pie as exploding numbers of emerging middle class travellers from China flock to Australia, making celebratory events such as the Lunar New Year more important than ever.

“From commemorative New Year gifts or gift cards, to one-off Lunar sales events, to Chinese theming in red and gold, to cultural performances such as lion-dancing – retailers who embrace the spirit of the celebrations are reaping the greatest rewards,” Mr Evans said.

“Retailers who’ve adapted their offerings to appeal to visiting consumers by hiring bi-lingual staff, offering better sales, and of course, catering to important dates such as the Chinese Lunar New Year, will stay ahead of the game,” Mr Evans said.

Chinese visitors rank as the highest overall spenders among inbound tourists to Australia, averaging $8,616 per person – an increase of 17.0 per cent – and average a six-week trip Down Under.

“However recent surveys suggest that while Chinese tourists give glowing feedback on Australia’s friendliness, environment, attractions and safety, they are yet to be as impressed with its shopping and value for money.

Chinese visitors now account for 22 per cent of all inbound tourism expenditure, with the majority of visitors ranking shopping as a high priority.

“There is a very real opportunity to add retail to the list of Australia’s unique offerings – which includes its friendliness, climate, wildlife and beaches, or landmarks such as the Opera House, Great Barrier Reef and Uluru – in order to position Australia as a holiday destination like no other,” he said.