Retailers set for $38.7 billion Xmas sales

ARA_shopping_w250After a year of choppy and uncertain growth, retailers are optimistic of a ‘fair, not great’ 2009 Christmas period, with an expected year-on-year growth of 4.7 per cent totalling $38.7 billion moving through the economy via retail sales, according to peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA).

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said 2009 was an improvement on 2008 but added that it remained challenging as 72 per cent of retailers found last week’s trading met or was below expectations.

“Although last week’s trading did not rise above expectations for most retailers, 65 per cent said last week’s trading was similar to or better than this time last year. The fact that retailers are expecting better sales than last year but are not yet meeting their targets shows there is optimism, although a significant portion of retailers are still hampered by patchy trade,” Zimmerman said.

“The reality is that three successive interest rate rises are affecting consumers who are now less confident.”

According to ARA modelling and research among key sector retailers, national Christmas sales for 2009 will total $38.7 billion (up from 2008 – $36.95 billion) of which sales for department stores would total $3.21 billion and for fashion would total $2.71 billion.

State by state Christmas 2009 retail sales were projected as follows: NSW $12.6 billion, VIC $9.3 billion, QLD $8.1 billion, SA $2.7billion, WA $4.1 billion, TAS $812 million, NT $386 million and ACT $735 million.

“The ARA has been publishing retail sales predictions using internal research modelling with consistent accuracy for over 15 years,” Zimmerman said.

“From our research, we constantly come across a type of consumer – a conservative, thrifty and wary consumer keen on making their dollar really stretch across lower end and reduced priced products.

“Over the Christmas season, retailers will experience fair trade but it will be below their expectations,” he added.

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