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After the catastrophe comes a Christmas spending binge

Business

Queenslanders is set to lead the nation when it comes to Christmas spending with an anticipated $8 billion splurge, while nationally spending is expected to jump to almost $20 billion, a 3.9 per cent increase on last year.

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The Australian Retailers Association said its latest survey results pointed to a bumper trading period from Boxing Day through to mid-January.

ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said the forecasts were encouraging for retailers after a disruptive year due to COVID-19.

“For many retailers, 2020 has been a year to forget, but things have certainly picked up with strong pre-Christmas sales and that’s now set to flow through to Boxing Day and into 2021,” Zahra said.

“We know Australians love to snap up a bargain during the Boxing Day sales, and despite all the challenges that have been thrown at us, this year will be no different.”

The ARA data shows the post-Christmas sales in Queensland are likely to be about $4.1 billion, a 7.9 per cent increase on last year.

Nationally, spending on hospitality will be the biggest loser. It has been tipped to fall by 17 per cent, while spending on food would jump 10 per cent and household goods would increase by 12 per cent.

Department stores were likely to see a small fall in spending.

“The Australian economy is bouncing back – consumer confidence is on the rise, people are heading back to their favourite shops, and that’s reflected in these figures,” Zahra said.

The strongest growth in post-Christmas sales is expected in NSW, up 4.4 to over $6.1 billion and Queensland, up 7.9 per cent to over $4.1 billion. Post-Christmas sales in Victoria are forecast to be virtually unchanged from a year ago.

“These figures paint a picture of what Australians have been through this year. People are spending more time at home, so Household Goods and Food sales are up, while Hospitality is down as venues operate with reduced capacity,” Zahra said.

“Overall, the post-Christmas retail sales forecasts are incredibly strong and are a positive sign that we’re in for a much brighter 2021.”

Roy Morgan chief executive Michelle Levine said Australian retailers had enjoyed a much better last six months than many expected when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March/April and retail sales for the month of April fell a record 9.2 per cent.

“The unprecedented Government support including JobKeeper wage subsidies, a doubling of JobSeeker from April – September and providing access to two tranches of up to $10,000 for Australians in financial hardship to withdraw from their superannuation as well as mortgage and other loan deferrals by Australia’s banks have provided a significant windfall to millions of Australians,” Levine said.

“This stimulus has amounted to hundreds of billions of dollars injected into the economy and retail sales growth over the six months from May to October has been well above historical averages despite Victoria spending nearly four months in a second lockdown.”

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