Owners of Toy Kingdom in Lismore, Carey and Carmel Horner, with some of the popular Christmas present choices for 2011.
Owners of Toy Kingdom in Lismore, Carey and Carmel Horner, with some of the popular Christmas present choices for 2011. Cathy Adams

'Tis the season to be buying

WITH only 26 sleeps left until Christmas, shoppers are hitting the stores in the hope of snagging the perfect gift.

Sales at Lismore's Toy Kingdom were off to a good start with its owners expecting a slightly better retail season this year.

"I think it will be better than last year," store owner Carmel Horner said.

The Christmas season had begun, she said and so far everything was on track.

Ms Horner said the high buying power of the Aussie dollar meant a lot of toys were now as much as 20% cheaper than they were just a few years ago.

For example, the French Djeco sticker books are now $7.99. They were $9.99.

She said the worst Christmas the store experienced was in 2007 when a major department store chain opened.

However, the slump was short-lived with many customers returning due to the store's extensive range and its high-quality toys, Ms Horner said.

Co-owner Carey Horner said one of the products that was selling very well this Christmas was remote-control toys.

"They have just become so affordable," he said.

The Micro Twister remote control helicopter, which can be flown indoors and out, was the most popular of all the remote control toys they stock.

It retails for just under $50.

Despite banks not passing on to credit card holders this month's interest rate cut, the Australian National Retailers Association is also expecting this year's trading to beat last year.

It is estimating consumers will part with $1000 each, on average, in the months leading up to Christmas.

The expected 2011 national Christmas retail sales will see $39.5 billion turned over, up from 2010's $38.6 billion, about a 2% increase.

It is expected $16 billion will be spent on food, up 3.4%.

Department stores should see $2.9 billion traded, down by 1.5%.

Apparel will see a drop in trading of 1.9%, down to $3 billion, and hospitality will see a 1.8% drop to $5.1 billion.

According to its figures, 54% of retailers were putting goods on sale in the lead-up to Christmas and customers were looking for low prices over service.


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