With Christmas trees and lights barely down, retail analysts have already come up with their first estimates of pre-Christmas sales.
With some retail groups forecasting as much as a 5.4 per cent rise in turnover during the run up to Christmas, Citi’s senior retail analyst Craig Woolford says they may be disappointed.
“I think retailers became optimistic about a strong Christmas trading period,” he predicted.
“The reality is that growth was probably in the band of 3-4 per cent, which is good by historical standards – over recent years its been very poor during Christmas and things have improved – but you call 3-4 per cent boom conditions.”
Mr Woolford’s research and industry contacts indicate that electronics retailers are set to be the biggest beneficiaries of the Christmas shopping season.
His analysis suggests computer tablets were among the most popular gifts as prices came down and the range of products increased.
Craig Woolford says some electronic retailers will perform better than others.
“Because of the strength in electronics, and most of it was portable electronics products, we think that JB Hi-Fi was very well placed over Christmas, and feedback supports that, more so than some of the other electronics retailers like Harvey Norman,” he added.
Citi says sporting goods were also cleared from the shelves, albeit with some discounting, but clothing and footwear were much less popular presents.
Mr Woolford says the crowds that greeted the start of the clearance sales will not last for long as consumers lose interest.
“Retailers may have to move on to the next season, but that’s always very challenging when the next season is supposed to be winter or colder climate fashion when it’s still the middle of January,” he observed.
Post sales, Citi is forecasting another year of subdued earnings growth for retailers given low wages growth and rising unemployment.