Exclusive: Shoppers are set to shrug off 2020's COVID-19 gloom with a national spending surge at the pre-Christmas sales.

New forecasts by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan Research predict consumers will spend at least $1.5 billion more this year than in 2019, fuelled by government stimulus payments and rising confidence.

However, some states and product categories are tipped to do much better than others.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said the forecast spending growth of 2.8 per cent to $54.3 billion for the period between November 12 and December 24 would be an "incredible achievement".

"Consumers are predominantly beyond those lockdown blues and are now ready to spend on themselves and on others," Mr Zahra said.

"The economy's been significantly pumped with government stimulus … we can't have an economic recovery without a retail recovery."

Retail spending is forecast to dip slightly in NSW and Victoria but surge at least 9 per cent in all other states. Sales of food and household goods are projected to jump at least 10 per cent.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra. Picture: Gaye Gerard

Mr Zahra said hospitality spending remained inhibited by capacity constraints and spending on clothing, footwear and accessories would be weaker as people continued working from home.

"There's less events and outings and people are nesting. There's a real casualisation and people are what I call half-dressing."

Mr Zahra said JobKeeper, higher JobSeeker payments and superannuation withdrawals had been game changers. "We know that 58 cents of every social security dollar is being spent in retail - when money goes to the people that need it most, they spend it."

Roy Morgan CEO Michelle Levine said the banning of international travel had forced Australians to spend money closer to home.

"Retail sales have boomed in states such as WA and Queensland which have successfully dealt with COVID-19, although conditions have been tougher in the larger states of New South Wales and Victoria, which were impacted by the lack of tourists," she said.

 

Harvey Norman executive chairman Gerry Harvey said the sales surge since April and May had carried on throughout the year and retailers expected good November and December trading.

"We know we're going to have a strong Christmas," Mr Harvey said.

A separate study by McCrindle Research has found 40 per cent of Australians plan to take part in next week's Black Friday sales, with younger generations three times more likely to do so.

It found more than half of Generation Z and Generation Y would engage with the sales, compared with 25 per cent of Generation X and 11 per cent of Baby Boomers.

Social researcher Mark McCrindle said awareness of Black Friday had jumped dramatically in recent years and retailers were increasingly welcoming it.

"If it has the impact of pulling purchasing away from the Christmas season, allowing it to be less commercial and a time of more manageable credit card debt, then it will have benefits to Australians as a whole," Mr McCrindle said.

 

Originally published as Aussie shoppers ready to splurge big bucks on sales


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