The Australian Retailers Association says it is likely that its forecast of $2.3 billion for the nation’s Boxing Day sales has been exceeded.
The association’s executive director Russell Zimmerman said New South Wales was particularly strong, with the extension of trading on Boxing Day from the CBD to metropolitan and regional areas.
Mr Zimmerman said retailers have told him there was strong turnover.
“We actually think that record has been exceeded,” he said.
“Retailers we spoke to anecdotally said the trading day was very, very successful, so we would hope that figure will be exceeded.”
Australia’s Retail Council, representing large national retailers, said lower petrol prices and a slight fall in the unemployment rate have helped drive the strong Boxing Day sales across the country.
The council was expecting around $2.5 billion in sales and says anecdotal reports on foot traffic through stores back those forecasts, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics to release the official figures in February.
The council’s chief executive Anna McPhee said economic factors seem to have boosted turnover.
“Consumer confidence in NSW has been particularly high, but there is stronger consumer confidence across the country,” she observed.
“Record low interest rates [and] lower fuel [prices] at the end of the year has certainly been what’s impacting family budgets.”
A law change in New South Wales saw many retailers outside the CBD able to open on Boxing Day for the first time this year.
However, several other states retain trading restrictions on Boxing Day retail hours.
Mr Zimmerman said a survey by the retailers association ahead of Christmas revealed that about 70 per cent of stores that were able to open would trade on Boxing Day.
“Some of the mum and dad operators would probably not open, particularly where they were not in major shopping centres and where perhaps it would be a little on the quiet side,” he added.