Christmas sales match predictions

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Australians spent a record $47.5 billion during the 2017 Christmas period, according to the December 2017 retail-sales data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The figures closely align with the pre-Christmas forecasts made by peak retail industry body the National Retail Association (NRA), which predicted $48 billion in sales over Christmas.

“It’s clear that Australian retail experienced another strong sales period in Christmas 2017 and this bodes well for retail as we enter the second month of 2018,” NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said.

The December 2017 ABS retail figures showed that sales grew by 0.5 per cent in trend terms and rose be two per cent for the December 2017 quarter compared with 2016.

In trend terms there were rises in food retailing (0.3 per cent), cafés, restaurants and takeaway (0.4 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessories (0.5 per cent).

All states and territories, other than the Northern Territory, recorded a rise in trend terms for December 2017 with the largest increases in South Australia (0.6 per cent) and Victoria (0.5 per cent).

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says December 2017 trade figures represent a “conservative” Christmas instead of the “merry” Christmas retailers had in mind, with a 2.49 per cent total growth year on year. The figure falls slightly short of the 2.8 per cent forcast by ARA and Roy Morgan.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says the “shining light” over the festive season was that consumers celebrated the holidays with family and friends. “This was illustrated by the strong growth in liquor sales, with an outstanding 6.08 per cent year-on-year increase,” he said.

“Although these figures are more conservative than retailers would have liked, we are hopeful that the improving economy will spur growth for retailers across the country in 2018.”