New research released in the Deloitte ARA Christmas Retail Survey showed almost 68 per cent of consumers are planning to spend the same or more during the Christmas season compared to last year.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA)’s executive director Richard Evans said consumers were looking forward to enjoying some Christmas retail therapy after some tough months.

“The constant ‘gloom and doom’ messages from analysts about the state of the economy have lead to over 62 per cent of respondents mistakenly believing Australia is in a recession at the moment. There results are a timely reminder of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s recent comments that consumers shouldn’t give in to the gloomy talk on the economy.”

Despite an overly negative outlook on the economy at large, shoppers are still ready to spend some money this Christmas with over 55 per cent planning to spend the same amount as last year on Christmas gifts and over 12 per cent planning to spend more, said Evans.

He said over one third of respondents said they were going to spend between $250 and $500 on Christmas presents and another third plan to spend up to $1000 on gifts for friends and family.

“Retailers are optimistic about solid sales during the holiday season, although growth may not be as significant as last year’s decade-strong Christmas trade.”
Budget-conscious consumers are planning to wait for the post-Christmas sales, with 15.4 per cent of consumers indicating they would complete their shopping after Christmas day. The good news is Santa has come early for savvy shoppers this year with 43 per cent retailers offering generous pre-Christmas sales this year, according to Evans.

“Now is the time for consumers to start their Christmas shopping because there are a lot of bargains to be had at the moment. With interest rates at their lowest since December 2003, petrol prices on the decline and the Rudd Government’s stimulus package landing in consumers’ pockets on 8 December, there will be an influx of cash in pockets for the holiday season. Retailers have been suffering all year and now they’re calling on consumers to spend responsibly – without relying on credit – and embrace the gift giving spirit of Christmas,” said Evans.

According to the survey, of the consumers who are considering buying ‘traditional gifts’, almost a fifth (19.3 per cent) indicated they were going to be purchasing books, followed by clothes/shoes (16.2 per cent), music/CDs (14.8 per cent), videos/DVDs (14 per cent), cosmetics/perfumes (10.6 per cent), jewellery/watch (8.9 per cent), entertainment tickets (8.8 per cent) and sports equipment/sportswear (7.3 per cent).

Of the consumers who were considering buying ‘electronics’ which included gaming, 14.7 per cent planned to purchase an MP3 Player/iPod. More than a quarter (27.1 per cent) were purchases of home electronic appliances and other electronics. However, the Nintendo Wii was also a popular choice with 13.4 per cent, followed by other computer games (12.9 per cent) being popular gifts for Christmas 2008.