New research released yesterday showed retailers are cautiously optimistic about trading during the holiday season, with 43 per cent expecting sales to be the same or better than last year’s record trade.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans said the ARA Retail Christmas Expectations Survey indicated over 59 per cent of retailers who were optimistic about the 2008 Christmas trading season expected sales to increase by between 10 and 20 per cent.

“Our research shows experienced retailers understand retailing works in cycles and this downturn in retail trade has come off the back of the most successful Christmas trading period in a decade. So for over 48 per cent of retailers to be expecting store traffic this Christmas season to be the same or better than last year, shows confidence and an understanding of economic peaks and troughs within the sector.

Evans said retailers are working hard to boost consumer sentiment and give shoppers the confidence to spend responsibly this Christmas with over 43 per cent of retailers planning pre-Christmas sales.

Retailers will be using point of sale promotions (over 61 per cent), giveaways and competitions (over 25 per cent), while 67 per cent of retailers are planning print, television and radio advertisements.  

“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… ,” said Evans. 

The ARA Retail Christmas Expectations Survey tracks retail prospects for the 2008 Christmas season including sales, profitability, employment and marketing plans over the Christmas season.