The Christmas clock is ticking, and the tills have been ringing.
Last-minute shoppers have helped push Australian retailers towards what’s tipped to be their biggest Christmas since the global financial crisis hit.
Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO Margy Osmond says the overall spend in the four-week run-up to Christmas this year is expected to hit $29.6 billion.
“We think Australian retailers will probably have the best Christmas they’ve had for four or five years,” she told AAP on Tuesday.
She said the last-minute rush had favoured the big retailers.
“A lot of the specialty stores have done much better this Christmas but there’s no doubt in the last couple of weeks it’s the department stores that are the big winners because it’s the place you can go and tick every box all in the one spot,” Ms Osmond said.
Residents in smaller states – the Northern Territory, the ACT, Tasmania – had generally gotten their Christmas shopping out of the way early, while their counterparts in NSW and Victoria were more likely to have left it till the last minute.
Kevin Finch was looking harried in Sydney’s CBD on Tuesday evening, ticking off the people he was still buying for.
“My mother, my father, some family friends, and my grandma,” he told AAP.
“Stupidly, I thought today would be a bit quieter.”
He said he wouldn’t be venturing out for the Boxing Day sales on Thursday, but keen bargain-hunters can get in earlier than that.
In a break with tradition, department store David Jones has already launched its post-Christmas sale online, while the Myer online sale will kick off at 9am (AEDT) on Wednesday.
ANRA’s Margy Osmond is expecting a 5.6 per cent boost on post-Christmas sales figures from a year ago, with an expected $1.9 billion spend on Boxing Day alone.
Retailers predict stores around the country will take in more than $15 billion over the next three weeks, with the bulk of that likely to be spent on Boxing Day.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman told AAP he expects “a huge number of people” to head for malls around the country when the bricks-and-mortar sales start on Thursday.
But Mr Zimmerman didn’t think the lure of early sales online would take away from the familiar frenzy seen in department stores on the day.
“There’s a real atmosphere around Boxing Day sales, it’s full of people, it’s full of excitement and noise and generally speaking there’s entertainment around,” he said.
“You may well find that people will be encouraged to come out, they’ll think it might not be quite so busy as it’s been in the past because of the online sales, but I suspect it will be just as busy.”