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Retail is having its best holiday season in years

Retail is having its best holiday season in years

Australian and American retailers are celebrating their best holiday sales in years. 

In the US it was the biggest Christmas in six years, with spending up 5.1% to more than $850 billion, while the National Retail Association said here had been a record-breaking $50billion in sales since mid-November in Australia, with boxing day and Boxing Day expected to be the biggest single spending day of the Christmas season.

“This is the largest Christmas we’ve seen in some time, which is great news for retailers, especially with those figures being quite flat across the year,” chief executive Dominique Lamb said.

However, the Australian Bureau of Statistics won’t reveal November’s results until January 11, with December’s official stats not available until February.

The buoyant US figures were reported by Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending across all payment types between November 1 and December 24.

The apparel and home improvement categories saw the most growth, with clothing sales up 7.9% increase compared to 2017, while home improvement saw a 9% rise.

Department stores experienced a 1.3% decrease from last year, however department stores saw strong growth in online sales, up 10.2%.

Amazon said it is celebrating record global holiday sales. The company claimed that it shipped a billion products for free in the US alone through its Amazon Prime subscription program. It also said that the number of voice-placed orders over its virtual personal assistant Alexa was triple that of last year.

“We have seen some things really solidify” amid a strong economy and many retailers making investments to grow online, said Steve Barr, consumer markets leader at consulting firm PwC. But this holiday season shows that “the pace of change to online, especially mobile, is really not easing up”.

Aussie surge in online liquor spending

According to Macquarie Wealth Management survey most spending in Australia was flat over Christmas.

“The key difference year on year has been a pick-up in online spend on food and liquor purchases — 11% of respondents ranked food and liquor as the No.1 category they are likely to purchase online this festive season, up from around 8.5% last year,” the report noted. 

The survey saw an overall shift to digital purchasing, with 53% of respondents expecting to spend more online this year compared to last. While it singled out clothing, electronics, entertainment, and games/toys as being most at risk of online disruption, there has also been a pick-up in online spend on food and liquor purchases.

Shoppers were cautious in their festive spending due to nervousness about factors such as falling house prices.


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