Big season spenders

November 30, 2016

Australian shoppers are set to spend a whopping $48 billion in the lead up to Christmas, as we get our festive fill of food, hospitality, clothes, household goods and gifts.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan Research predict retail spending over the Christmas trading period – from 15 November to 24 December - will grow by 2.3% on 2015 figures.

The predictions include a $19.5 billion splurge on food as we fling our doors open and start entertaining in earnest. Household goods are the next biggest item on the festive season spend list with projected sales of more than $8.3 billion.

Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says Australians are also expected to “ramp up patronage to restaurants, bars and fast-food retailers”, with hospitality sales likely to reach $6.8 billion; 5.7% more than in 2015.

Zimmerman says department stores will probably see a small drop in spending this year – 0.1% down from 2015 sales of just over $3 billion – but the figures suggest more positive news over the long-term.

 “Growth was varied among the retail categories, but we’re seeing sales trending up and are hopeful we’ll see robust sales," Zimmerman says. “(We’ve had) remarkable accuracy in our forecasts for the last few years and we are confident in healthy spending in the lead-up to Christmas.”

Budget, and don’t blow it

Indulging your wish list also doesn't mean not managing your spend.

Gail McTaggart, CEO of GM Mortgage Services, says the best thing to do is to plan ahead – ideally at the start of the year. But even this close to Christmas, she says, it's not too late.

"Set a budget and avoid credit card debt, unless you're sure you can pay it down by the end of the month,” McTaggart says. “And if you're having a lot of people for Christmas lunch, share the responsibility for the food."

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