Industry body tips pre-Christmas windfall for retailers

mall-christmasIndustry body, the National Retail Association (NRA) has today predicted consumers are on track to drop a hefty $48 billion on festive cheer, during the busiest time of year for the nation’s retailers.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said despite sluggish retail spending, Aussie retailers will be run off their feet from next week through to December 31.

“Retailers have been preparing for months, recruiting extra staff who can take care of the extra foot traffic, help indecisive consumers find the right gift, as well as keep those piles of crumpled clothes and muddled up racks under control, all without breaking a sweat” Lamb said.

“Students in particular love this time of year as they can stock up on as many shifts as possible while they’re not in semester, and we’re seeing a great deal of workers choosing to maximise their earning capacity now to fund travel through the year,” she said.

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Source: NRA

The NRA said other services like Australia Post’s Shipster offering, was indicative of ways the industry is working together to better cater to shoppers’ growing need for speed and convenience.

“Stores with physical and online footprints have been utilising better data analytics tools this year ahead of the busy period, to better assess their channels and streamline their e-commerce portals.

“Retailers have really upped the ante on their fulfilment and delivery services this year, and will be utilising rapidly advancing technology to give more accurate feedback on changing consumer needs, to offer even better services into 2018,” she said.

And while shoppers might be keen to get the job done swiftly, Lamb said personalised service will still be high on the agenda.

“Experiential shoppers won’t just be looking to walk into a store, grab the product they want and leave. They will be looking for a more individualized service that provides a more immersive retail experience, rather than simply a Christmas shopping chore.”

Today’s bullish prediction by the NRA follows soon after the latest retail spending figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed disappointing results for September, with nominal sales growth flat at 0.0 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms, lagging market expectations of a 0.4 per cent increase.

Seasonally adjusted retail spending totalled $25.9 billion in the month.

The September trade figures represent a disappointing move towards Christmas, with a 1.44 per cent total year-on-year growth – well below the seasonally adjusted long-term average.

Russell Zimmerman, Australian Retailers Association executive director, described the figures as extremely frightening this close to the biggest trading period of the year, and urged the government to refocus on increasing disposable income.

Lamb said the ongoing flat results demonstrated the difficult circumstances retailers were confronting.

“These results demonstrate the importance of every measure that gives business any opportunity to remain competitive – such as gradually reducing weekend penalty rates to more sensible levels,” Lamb said.

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