Jasper Lindell

Retailers forecast $1bn in Canberra Christmas shopping | The Canberra Times

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Retail spending in the lead-up to Christmas has been forecast to surge in the ACT, with more than $1 billion expected to flow through cash registers. The Australian Retailers Association predicted pre-Christmas spending to grow in the ACT by 12.7 per cent on last year’s level, well above the national forecast of 2.8 per cent. The association said $1.116 billion would be spent in Canberra, up from $990 million last year. The association’s chief executive, Paul Zahra, said travel limits had helped drive sales growth for food and household goods, but discretionary spending was likely to remain lower. “Most states that have remained open and largely virus-free since the initial lockdowns are expected to see double digit growth, and we are hopeful that effective pandemic management and pent-up demand in NSW and Victoria will shift the needle and provide a shot in the arm for retailers who have done it tough all year,” Mr Zahra said. “We anticipate some variation between the states and territories, and it’s been a year of ups and downs, so these predictions carry a bit more uncertainty than last year – but also a lot more potential upside if we work together to create a healthy, safe summer.” The association said the international travel ban had forced Australians to spend their money domestically, but states which had been forced to use severe COVID-19 restrictions had seen retail spending fall. “We can be enormously proud of the way retail has adapted to an incredibly difficult year, and we hope that, together with all Australians, the retail industry can finish on a high with a safe and joyful Christmas shopping season,” Mr Zahra said in a statement. Last year, $990 million was spent in the lead-up to Christmas at retailers in the ACT, out of a $52 billion national spend, the Australian Retailers’ Association said. A national survey of retailers conducted by Deloitte found 39 per cent of retailers expected Christmas sales to exceed 2019 levels by 5 per cent, while 24 per cent of those surveyed expected sales to fall by more than 5 per cent. More than 70 per cent of retailers surveyed said they expected online sales to be higher than the same time last year. ACT retail turnover fell slightly between the March and June quarters, down 0.5 per cent. Turnover grew by 12.2 per cent between the June and September quarters, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Preliminary data from the bureau on Friday showed October retail trade had increased by 7.3 per cent on the October 2019 level, and had grown 1.6 per cent since September 2020. If Victoria was excluded from the data, retail sales were 11.9 per cent higher in October 2020 than in October 2019. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food had led the increase in trade, the bureau said.

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