Ka-chin­gle all the way for re­tail­ers

COUNT­DOWN TO CHRIST­MAS

Sunday Mail - - NEWS - ELISA BLACK

THE smiles on the faces of Delilah-Grace and Tayleigh are as bright as the Christ­mas lights that will adorn the River­bank from to­mor­row.

The West End Brew­ery’s Christ­mas River­bank Dis­play brings joy to thou­sands of South Aus­tralian fam­i­lies – in­clud­ing Delilah-Grace, 2, and her mother Jaime Carr, and Tayleigh, 3, and her mother Krys­tal White – ev­ery year.

En­hanced LED light­ing has been in­stalled on one of the old­est struc­tures – the fer­ris wheel – and ad­di­tional light­ing will in­crease bright­ness.

The dis­play is on from 4pm to mid­night un­til Jan­uary 1. RE­TAIL­ERS are hop­ing for a busier-than-usual Christ­mas spend­ing splurge as South Aus­tralians take ad­van­tage of a re­newed con­fi­dence in our econ­omy.

In­dus­try fig­ures fore­cast shop­pers will spend tens of mil­lions more dol­lars – even­tu­ally hit­ting $3.4 bil­lion, a 3.1 per cent in­crease on last year.

Re­tail ex­perts say the boost, which is above the na­tional av­er­age of 2.9 per cent, comes amid fresh op­ti­mism in busi­ness and con­sumer con­fi­dence.

To­day is the first day of ex­tended open­ing hours ahead of the fes­tive sea­son. Trad­ing starts from 9am – two hours ear­lier – while some cen­tres will close later over the com­ing weeks.

It fol­lows bit­ter po­lit­i­cal de­bate about dereg­u­lat­ing trad­ing hours af­ter the new Lib­eral Gov­ern­ment failed in a bid to change re­tail laws.

Aus­tralian Re­tail­ers As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Rus­sell Zim­mer­man said that spend­ing was fore­cast to ex­ceed $3.4 bil­lion this year on the back of an im­prov­ing econ­omy fol­low­ing strong sec­tor growth over the past six months.

ARA fig­ures show SA con­sumers spent $3.32 bil­lion in the lead-up to Christ­mas last year. Na­tion­ally, Aus­tralians will spend $51.4 bil­lion in the weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

“It’s fair to say there’s a rea­son­able amount of con­fi­dence in SA and we’re see­ing that re­flected in re­tail fig­ures,’’ Mr Zim­mer­man said. “We have seen very suc­cess­ful trad­ing in the last six to seven months since the (state) elec­tion.”

Re­tail­ers say a drop in fuel prices, good weather and a se­ries of mass-dis­count­ing days have pro­vided the per­fect runup to Christ­mas for shop­pers and stores alike.

Sep­a­rate re­search by ac­count­ing gi­ant Deloitte has found four in five re­tail­ers ex­pect higher Christ­mas sales this year, es­pe­cially on­line.

With just 23 shop­ping days left un­til Christ­mas, our largest shop­ping cen­tres were braced for a busy fes­tive sea­son.

Run­dle Mall Man­age­ment Au­thor­ity gen­eral man­ager Jo­hanna Wil­liams said while De­cem­ber was tra­di­tion­ally its busiest month, traders pre­dicted even busier con­di­tions.

“We’re ex­pect­ing that will trans­late to our precinct,’’ she said. “Cer­tainly ac­tiv­ity has been up since … last week as shop­pers turned out in force to get an early start on their Christ­mas shop­ping. That’s ex­pected to con­tinue through to the last-minute rush.”

West­field spokes­woman Lucy An­dol­fatto pre­dicted a flood of cus­tomers through shop­ping com­plexes.

“Christ­mas is our busiest time of year and we’re ex­pect­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple over the com­ing weeks shop­ping for gifts, fresh food and gift cards, es­pe­cially in the last few days be­fore Christ­mas Day,’’ she said.

“To help with this, we’ll be open­ing ear­lier and clos­ing later from (to­day), of­fer­ing flex­i­bil­ity and con­ve­nience for cus­tomers who are look­ing to shop at a time that suits them best.”

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