Retailers expect ‘mixed bag’ Christmas sale results
RETAILERS are expecting a "mixed bag" of Christmas sales results with visits to some stores plummeting during the crucial trading period.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said sales at some bricks and mortar chains were "much softer" than anticipated from mid-November up until Christmas Eve.
He said industry data suggested year-on-year foot traffic at some retailers based in shopping centres had crashed by as much as 15 to 22 per cent in the final two weeks of last year.
But the growing popularity of online shopping, particularly during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, would in many cases compensate for a loss of trade inside stores.
His comments came as camping and hiking supplier Kathmandu downgraded its profit forecasts following poor Christmas and Boxing Day sales.
Chief executive officer Xavier Simonet said: "Following strong same store sales growth in quarter one, we are disappointed in trading results in Australia and New Zealand over the Christmas and Boxing Day period".
Mr Zimmerman said one giftware seller had confessed to having one of the worst Christmases on record.
But several smaller independent stores offering "old-fashioned customer service" had performed significantly better.
"It is not consistent. I have spoken to a heap of retailers and for some it has been really good and for others pretty ordinary," Mr Zimmerman said.
"Some did well in the lead-up and others have done well so far post-Christmas, and vice versa.
"It is patchy and puzzling, particularly as petrol prices were on the way down and people had more money in their pockets. It has been the most difficult year to try to get a reading on it."
He believed the sector was on track to achieve close to previously forecasted nationwide retail sales of $51.4 billion for the six weeks to Christmas Eve, up 2.9 per cent on the previous year.
Victoria appeared to be one of the stronger-performing states, he said.
It was too early to gauge post-Christmas sales performance, as the clearances did not end until later this month.
"Sales on Boxing Day were extremely strong, so we will have to wait and see whether that is maintained."