With Christmas just days away, Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has confirmed that based on early December retail trade, it will be a slow one for retailers this festive season.

The peak retail industry body’s week-by-week tracking of retail trade during the Christmas period has found that during the second week of December over 64 per cent of retailers were trading on par or below the same time in 2009.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said most retailers were anticipating soft trading this period.

“Consumers are extremely price sensitive this year with retailers reporting that higher priced items are being overlooked in favour of less expensive presents. But convenience is also important for time-poor shoppers who may have left their purchases to the last minute,” he said.

Retailers comparing trading from 5 to 11 December 2010 to the same time last year said over 35 per cent were trading above while over 43 per cent were trading below and over 21 per cent were trading the same as last year.

At this stage sales are on track to meet the projected $39.9 billion in retail sales this Christmas (NSW $13.1 billion, VIC $9.7 billion, QLD $8.2 billion, SA $2.7 billion, WA $4.2 billion, TAS $823 million, NT $401 million and ACT $746 million).