Australians are indulging in some post-Christmas retail therapy as they hit the Boxing Day sales online and in-store.
Masks, rising COVID numbers and Omicron uncertainty haven’t put off the nation’s bargain hunters, who are expected to spend $2.9 billion in store and a further $1.2 billion online.
The National Retail Association says it hasn’t seen figures like this in 11 years.
It expects the driving force is pent-up demand from consumers stuck in lockdown for much of the year.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said buying trends reflected how Australians are getting back to normal life.
She said clothing, footwear, jewellery and personal items were popular purchases as people move on from the comfortable loungewear bought for staying at home.
But household items were still trending heavily, indicating Australians were still “preparing the nest” in case of further lockdowns, she said.
Although state governments consider whether to mandate a third vaccine dose, retailers are calling for more certainty.
‘Follow the science’
Ms Lamb said business owners and consumers were confused about the advice on the effect of the Omicron variant and the changing rules.
“Consistency is always best for us,” she said.
“At the end of the day, we need to follow the science and we would hope this issue isn’t politicised.”
But the statistics aren’t all fun, with research showing 56 per cent of workers have suffered abuse during the pandemic.
The retail workers union want shoppers to remember their masks and their manners.
“We know that shopping centres can be very busy and pressure can build as people seek a bargain, but it’s no excuse to take out those frustrations on workers,” SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said.
“Take extra care around the popular post-Christmas sales. Remember they often run for more than one day.”