Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Consumer spending strong in the lead up to Christmas

Australian retail sales momentum continues in the lead up to Christmas with sales increasing 25.9% in September compared to the same time last year, with sales also up 32.7% on pre-pandemic levels according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

“All retail categories continued to record significant year on year sales growth as we cycle the east coast lockdowns of 2021. Lodging recorded the biggest increase in trade in September, up 118.4% compared to 12 months prior, followed up by jewellery (up 113.8%), apparel (up 95.2%), electronics (up 74.2%) and home furnishings (up 51.4%).”

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says consumers are continuing to spend in the face of cost-of-living pressures, and that’s likely to continue over the festive trading period.

“Retail sales continue to go from strength to strength, however the Delta lockdowns of 2021 are the driving factor behind the substantial growth we’re seeing in the year-on-year comparison. Sales of Jewellery and Lodging are up over 100% on 12 months prior, which highlight just how strong the bounce back has been for domestic tourism and luxury retail,” Mr Zahra said.

“It’s pleasing to see many retailers build strong momentum as they enter their most critical time of year – our holiday sales predictions with Roy Morgan show Australians will spend nearly $64 billion in the lead up to Christmas, up three per cent on last year.”

“While consumers are challenged by rising interest rates and inflation, that hasn’t impacted spending here just yet. We appear to be experiencing a delayed impact from those factors, with a softening of sales more likely to occur in 2023,” he said.

“The biggest issue preventing retailers from trading at their full potential is staff shortages, with job vacancies increasing, and now running at over 46,000. Businesses are trying to recruit as many frontline staff as possible as they look to cover the increased demand over Christmas, but the reality is many of those positions will go unfilled.

“We acknowledge that it remains a challenging environment for small businesses on tighter margins in particular, as they continue to battle rising operating costs associated with fuel, energy, supply chains and rent,” Mr Zahra said.

Mastercard SpendingPulse September 2022

September 2022 vs September 2021

(Year on Year)

September 2022 vs September 2019

(3 years ago – pre-pandemic)

Apparel +95.2% +12.8%
Electronics +74.2% +13.8%
Fuel and Convenience +20.0% +6.0%
Groceries +6.2% +28.2%
Home Furnishings +51.4% +29.5%
Jewellery +113.8% +53.6%
Lodging +118.4% +4.3%

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