ABS confirms Christmas spending boost for Australian retailers

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has confirmed a bumper Christmas trading period for Australian retailers, with sales increasing 9.6% in December compared to the same time the previous year.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said it’s a fantastic result and shows the economic recovery is tracking well, despite the Covid threat still lingering.

“The impressive retail trade results we saw in November have continued through to Christmas, with Aussies spending $30.4 billion in stores and online in December,” Mr Zahra said.

“The figures today show year on year increases across the major retail categories with household goods up $837 million or 18%, clothing footwear and personal accessories up $221 million or 10% and department stores up $82 million or 5%. However, not surprisingly, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services were down $85 million or 2% year on year.

“Online sales continue to strengthen, making up 9.1% of total retail sales in December 2020, compared to 6.6% in December 2019.

“There’s a lot of momentum in the market, whilst we don’t expect a fiscal cliff, we are expecting sales to soften in 2021. JobKeeper and the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement are due to end in March, and that may have an impact on consumer spending.

“As we’ve seen recently in West Australia and Victoria – things are very unpredictable at the moment. Governments are imposing restrictions and lockdowns with little to no notice as new Covid cases emerge, and that has an impact on business and consumer confidence.

“The virus won’t be immediately stopped in its tracks when the vaccines are rolled out, so we’ll still be living Covid for some time, and some of the existing challenges will remain for retailers.

“Despite everything that has been thrown at them, retailers have shown great resilience to weather the Covid storm and remain cautiously optimistic for the year ahead.”

ENDS…for more details: Dominic Cuschieri 0418 224 072 (e) dominic.cuschieri@retail.org.au About us: founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association is Australia’s largest retail association, representing a $340bn sector employing more than 1.2m people. As Australia’s premier retail body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members. To learn more, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.

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