Retail figures point to ‘smarter’ Christmas spending outlook


While the result was better than the preliminary ABS figures of -1.5%, they represent a continued decline of 4% from the August figures in seasonally adjusted terms.

Sonia Nixon, head of retail at Openpay, said consumers will be thinking of “smarter” ways to spend money ahead of Christmas.

“What we’re likely to see between now and Christmas is consumers finding smarter ways to manage their finances this holiday season, like making the most of Black Friday sales or using flexible payment plans to spread the costs until 2021,” she said.

“Between now and the end of the year, we expect this upward trajectory to translate into sales growth as the lifting of lockdowns in Victoria breathes new life into the state’s retail sector and we are approaching of the peak of trade nationwide.”

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Retail throughout the pandemic has been extremely volatile, with numbers hitting historic highs in April due to grocery store panic buying.

September’s figures could indicate a stabilization in the industry, with quarterly retail sales figures up 6.5%.

ABS director of quarterly economy-wide surveys, Ben James, said some retail areas are trading at high levels compared to September 2019.

“September falls were led by household goods retail (-3.6%) and food retail (-1.5%),” he said.

“The quarterly gain was driven by a recovery in industries that saw sharp declines in the June 2020 quarter, as well as continued strength in industries such as food retail, other retail and household items.

Other data also indicates that spending has returned to pre-COVID levels.

Ms. Nixon stressed that now is the time for retailers.

“Retailers who respond to this will make the most of these key trade events and foster strong long-term brand loyalty,” she said.


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