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ARA: Christmas period will be make-or-break for retailers

The upcoming Christmas period is fast becoming even more critical to retailers than usual, according to ARA boss Paul Zahra, with spending down 0.8 per cent in September compared to last year.

Mastercard’s SpendingPulse data, which measures sales across online and in-store, found that, unsurprisingly, states that were not in lockdown fared much better than those whose people are facing movement restrictions.

Sales in NSW fell 10 per cent, while the ACT saw sales plummet 33.2 per cent compared to the same time last year. However, Victoria saw sales jump 7.9 per cent, since it was cycling on top of a lockdown period of 2020.

The Northern Territory saw sales lag 0.7 per cent, while Western Australia (6 per cent), Queensland (2.1 per cent), Tasmania (1.7 per cent) and South Australia (3.3 per cent) all saw sales increase during the month.

“With Christmas just 65 days away, discretionary retailers will be looking to make up for the substantial trading losses they’ve suffered in the locked down states during the busy festive shopping period,” Zahra said.

“The lockdowns have had a significant impact on discretionary retailers and department stores in particular, which recorded the sharpest decline in year-on-year sales out of the categories of retail [at 14.5 per cent].”

Zahra called the upcoming festive season, which has in recent years started as early as November’s Singles Day and Black Friday, and traditionally continued through to December’s Boxing Day, could be make or break for many retailers.

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