Australians have been spending more than a billion dollars a day in the final shopping rush before Christmas.
Retailers have recorded a pick up in spending on electronics, furniture, homewares and books.
As the big day nears, the focus is now switching from presents to celebrations on the day with more money expected to be spent on food and alcohol over Monday and Tuesday.
“We’re certainly in the space of Australians, overall, spending well over a billion dollars a day over the weekend,” National Retailers Association (NRA) chief executive Trevor Evans told AAP on Monday.
The Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) agrees and is predicting sales of about $29.6 billion over the Christmas period, an increase of more than five per cent from 2012.
Chief executive Margy Osmond said with Christmas Day falling mid-week, on Wednesday, some shoppers appear to have been caught off-guard about how long they had to prepare.
ANRA estimate last minute shoppers will spend $61 million online on Monday, mostly on gift vouchers.
Ms Osmond said after three years as one of the top Christmas presents, gift cards had gone from daggy to desirable.
“People like to get the gift cards because they can use them in the post-Christmas sales and get an extra bargain,” she told AAP.
Mr Evans expects Australians will also spend up big in the Boxing Day sales, even though many retailers, especially clothes shops, have offered large discounts in the lead up to Christmas.
“The fact that they’re doing that before Christmas indicates that the sales are going to be very genuine and very big indeed come Boxing Day when it comes down to a clearance of stock situation,” Mr Evans said.
Ms Osmond agreed, saying the ability to research sales online first, as early as Christmas Eve, would translate to more people turning up in the shops on Boxing Day.
“This is the first Christmas where retailers are engaging in a much more personalised way with shoppers in terms of the sale activity,” she said.
We’ll see an extra sophistication of that into the Boxing Day and post-Christmas sales.”
Last week, federal Treasurer Joe Hockey told Australians not to be put off by his budget update, which predicted more there would be deficits ahead.
Consumer sentiment has taken a bit of a battering recently with announcements from Holden, SPC and others about ending manufacturing operations.
However, Mr Evans thought the government had generally done a good job in trying to shore up shoppers’ confidence, despite the economic issues.