Townsville Bulletin

Retailers gearing up for Christmas splurge


FOLLOWING the end of lengthy lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne, Australian­s are set to spend up big with prediction­s of bumper Christmas sales of about $58bn for the nation’s retailers.

It is in line with last year’s spending spree and up 11.3 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

The Australian Retailers Associatio­n and research firm Roy Morgan predict this year’s pre-christmas spending will match last year’s high and be significan­tly above 2019 pre-pandemic spending.

The ARA-ROY Morgan 2021 pre-christmas Retail Sales prediction­s forecast overall spending will come in at $58.8bn – virtually unchanged on last year, but up 11.3 per cent on Christmas 2019.

“To achieve last year’s number is a pretty impressive feat because it was up 11.3 per cent and I can’t remember ever in my career – and I have been in the industry more than 40 years – double digit growth in that quarter, so actually to maintain that level is outstandin­g,” ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said.

Mr Zahra said most of the growth this year would be driven by clothing, fashion as well as restaurant­s and hospitalit­y as consumers yearn for a return to some kind of normality that includes socialisin­g and experience­s.

“I think there’s no doubt there will be a focus on experience because we have not been able to connect, so people will be out and about and we are obviously seeing that in restaurant and cafe numbers.

“I do think it is a refocus, a return to experience­s, but, in saying, that clothing is also to grow, people will move from buying household goods because there was such a significan­t increase last year.

“Clothing and footwear and accessorie­s are a big opportunit­y as consumers will be able to go to events, they will be able to go out, face-to-face and want to refresh their wardrobe because they have not done that for some time – and people’s waistlines might have changed through lockdowns.”

Tasmania is forecast to have the strongest growth in sales towards Christmas with Western Australia also strong, according to the ARA Roy Morgan report.

Other states might see slight declines, but this is off a strong pre-christmas trading period in 2020 that set new records in sales growth.

“Overall though, the outlook is positive in the lead-up to Christmas and there’s a lot to be cheerful about in this year’s prediction­s,” Mr Zahra said. “There’s a lot of Christmas cheer in these numbers, with the overall trend looking positive, and that is great news for small businesses and discretion­ary retailers who have suffered through some of the longest lockdowns in the world this year.”

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