Last-minute festive splurge sets tills ringing

Time is running out for shoppers to snap up Christmas gifts.

Time is running out for shoppers to snap up Christmas gifts. Photo: Getty

Australian retailers will benefit from a rush of last-minute Christmas shopping as a predicted $9 billion is spent in the final week of sales.

But the late dash to the shops won’t spare many outlets from a poor end-of-year performance as household budgets are crushed by high living costs.

The Australian Retailers Association said on Monday the multibillion-dollar shopping splurge would take the total outlay in the November to Christmas trading period to $67.4 billion, up 1 per cent on the same period last year.

About $27 billion is forecast to be forked out on food, accounting for most of the spend, a lift of 3.2 per cent on last year.

Department-store spending was set to rise 3 per cent, followed by a 1.6 per cent lift in spending on recreational goods, books and cosmetics.

The outlay on clothing was expected to tick up 0.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, spending on household goods was forecast to fall 3 per cent, while spending on hospitality was tipped to decline 1.5 per cent.

NSW consumers were forecast to spend $21.3 billion, while Victorians were set to spend $17.3 billion, according to the association.

ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said retailers had built momentum during Black Friday sales but conditions in the sector remained tough.

“The slight increase in spending this year is being inflated by unavoidable supply chain price increases, particularly in food, and an overall increase in Australia’s population,” he said.

“If you exclude these factors, overall Christmas spending is in decline.”

He urged shoppers to act fast if they planned to buy gifts online, given the looming deadline for Christmas deliveries.

Parcels sent by standard post from most locations in Australia must be dispatched on Monday to reach their destinations by Christmas, Australia Post says.

“Once the delivery deadline has passed, shoppers will have no choice but to head in-store to finalise their Christmas gifting lists,” Zahra said.

See all of Australia Post’s cutoff dates for Christmas mail here.


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