Christmas retail to be impacted by catastrophic bushfires

Australians are forecasted to spend almost $53 billion across retail stores during the busy 2019 holiday season, an increase of 2.6 per cent on the $51.4 billion spent in 2018, according to Roy Morgan.

The predictions, made in conjunction with the Australian Retailers Association, are down on the 2.9 per cent growth expected last year – a result of a turbulent year in retail capped off with catastrophic bushfires in New South Wales and Queensland, with South Australia tipped to be next.

“We live in the best country on Earth, but that comes with some terrible drawbacks; one of those is summer disasters – fires, cyclones, floods – that sadly affect some parts of the country,” outgoing executive director of the Australian Retailers Association Russell Zimmerman said. 

“Thousands of our members – their families, their employees, their communities – are located outside major cities and in areas threatened by disasters like this, so we know many of them and feel for them all.”

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said 476 homes had been destroyed so far, compared to the 37 destroyed last year, according to the ABC

Zimmerman added that while the headline figure is down on 2018, the growth is stronger than the industry has seen in recent months, and he expected Christmas trade to be solid, if unspectacular. 

Food spending is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent to $21.6 million, while spending on apparel will grow to $4.17 million – a 3 per cent growth on last year’s result.

Other retailing, which includes online shopping, will see the fastest growth however – up 3.7 per cent to $7.64 million.

Household goods and department store spending will see more muted growth at 0.6 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.  

“We recognise that the ongoing threat of bushfires introduces a significant degree of uncertainty to these forecasts and we want to send our goodwill and prayers to everyone impacted by this natural disaster for a safe and happy Christmas and New Year period,” said Michele Levine, chief executive of Roy Morgan. 

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