Christmas spending splurge boosts Australian retailers

Australian retail sales increased 9.4% in December, compared to the same time the previous year, according to preliminary data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said it’s an incredible result given the Covid challenges businesses faced over the Christmas shopping period.

“We knew Christmas this year would be a challenge, given the threat of the virus, so it’s fantastic to see a year-on-year increase of 9.4%,” Mr Zahra said.

“The month-to-month data can be volatile, so we shouldn’t be disheartened by the fact retail turnover fell 4.2% in December compared to November. The year-on-year figure is a more accurate reflection of what retailers experienced over Christmas compared to the previous year.

“This is a fantastic result that’s allowed retailers to recoup some of the losses they incurred during the worst of the Covid lockdowns and restrictions in 2020, and it sets them up for a more prosperous 2021.

“It’s also pleasing, given in-store traffic down was down in CBD shopping centres due to the threat of the virus. That was particularly the case in NSW after the outbreak on the Northern Beaches, which forced people to shop locally or online.

“Overall, there’s good momentum in the market and we’re cautiously optimistic for the year ahead.

“According to ARA partner Roy Morgan, confidence in the retail industry increased significantly from October to December – up nearly 70% – the biggest increase in that period compared to all other industries.

“ARA member Australia Post also reported December as its biggest month in history, with more than 52 million parcels delivered – an almost 20 per cent increase on the previous year.

“Having said that, the threat of the virus remains, and even when the vaccine is rolled out we’re going to be living with Covid for some time, so some of the existing challenges will remain for retailers.

“We look forward to seeing the final ABS figures for December, and the full breakdown of the spending categories in a couple of weeks.”said.

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