Australians will spend their cash bonus, instead of saving it, according to the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA).

“Australians may be throwing caution to the wind as Christmas approaches, despite earlier indications that saving and the mortgage was the number one priority,” said Margy Osmond, CEO ANRA.

ANRA has been asking 1000 respondents every few weeks since October how they plan to spend the cash bonus as part of the Federal Government’s economic stimulus package to gauge how consumer sentiment changes.

“For the first time since starting this regular survey back in October, more people are saying they plan to spend the cash bonus rather save it or pay down debt,” said Osmond said.

Fifty-four per cent of respondents say they plan to now spend the cash bonus, compared to 40 per cent back in October.

An increasing number of people are now saying they’ll spend the money on Christmas presents or on themselves. Seventeen per cent of respondents plan to spend their cash bonus on Christmas gifts, compared to nine per cent back in October. Similarly, more people are now saying they will spend the money on themselves.

“This survey indicates that people’s confidence may be starting to return. We’ve got falling interest rates, easing petrol prices, the cash bonus and massive pre-Christmas sales which is easing the pressure on family budgets.

“The real test for the sector will come in February and March which is traditionally a quiet time of year and not influenced by the emotion of Christmas. If the Christmas retailing period doesn’t hold up, we’ll really begin to see the sector shed jobs in the New Year,” said Osmond.