Christmas sales meet expectations, food retail leads the way

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 13th January 2009

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has advised that, after very slow November Christmas sales, the stimulus package and lower interest rates helped Christmas sales skyrocket in the last weeks of December to meet early projections of $37 billion nationally in retail sales. Food retail was not surprisingly at the top of the tree as consumers got into the festive spirit. In fact, food sales accounted for more than one third of retail sales over the period.
According to ARA Executive Director Richard Evans, a two per cent increase on the bumper 2007 Christmas period ($36.5 billion) was a great outcome.

“Considering all the negativity about the economy in the market in October and November, by the last two weeks of December, Australians were more confident about gift giving with reduced petrol prices, lowering interest rates and the Rudd Government’s cash bonus,” Mr Evans said. “From our research, we are also seeing a new type of consumer emerge – a more thrifty, credit-savvy, saving consumer. The lessons learnt from being burdened with high levels of credit card debt will mean in 2009 consumers will be in a much better cash position than we have seen previously.”

“As long as employment in the economy remains stable, and we must remember full employment is measured at five per cent, retailers will remain optimistic of growth returning to the sector in April with significant growth expected from July. We ask all employers, not just retailers, to retain their staff for the sake of the economy,” Mr Evans added.

According to ARA modelling and research among key sector retailers, Christmas sales for 2008 were as follows:

2008 National Christmas retail sales: $36.95 billion (projected $37.2 billion)
National category breakdown:
*food $14.78 billion
*department stores $2.96 billion
*apparel $2.59 billion
*household $6.28 billion
*hospitality $4.8 billion
*other $5.42 billion.

State by state Christmas 2008 retail sales:
NSW $12 billion (as projected), VIC $8.9 billion (as projected), QLD $7.7 billion (as projected), SA $2.6 billion (expected 2.6 billion), WA $3.95 billion (expected $4 billion), TAS $776 million (expected 781 million), NT $369 million (expected $372 million), and ACT $702 million (expected $707 million)