Average Christmas for retailers
A survey of unlisted retailers by Deutsche Bank found sales were mostly down during the first three weeks of December but turned a corner just before Christmas, with some of those surveyed ending the month with a record week of trading.
Harvey Norman was likely to be one of the strongest performers, with the strong housing market helping to drive furniture sales.
Fashion retailers in particular finished 2014 on a high, with sales growth in the high single digits in the last week of December.
Appliance sales also started the month weakly but lifted after Christmas and have been given a boost by hot weather in early January, the survey found, while furniture and bedding sales were also strong.
But consumer electronics was an exception, with sales up early in the month before sliding.
Deutsche research analyst, Michael Simotas, attributed the slow start to the month to weak consumer sentiment and the expectation of discounts after Christmas.
Overall, he said it had been a reasonable Christmas for retailers.
“In our view, retail sales this Christmas have been reasonable but not remarkable,” he said in a research note.
Listed retailers have yet to release details of their Christmas sales performance but Simotas warned many had been forced to offer higher discounts earlier, which could hurt profit margins.
One of the worst affected was likely to be consumer goods retailer JB Hi-Fi, with its profit margins under pressure due to a discounting battle with Dick Smith Holdings, while department store Myer was also likely to suffer due to discounting.
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