Retailers face uneven road to Christmas

Retail sales rebounded slightly in August, up 1.1 per cent according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, but retail’s focus is largely on the upcoming, and potentially open, Christmas shopping season.

“There’s hope on the horizon with NSW set to start to open back up next month, [and] the ACT expected to follow suit,” Australian Retailers Association (ARA) boss Paul Zahra said.

“The timing couldn’t be more important as retailers gear up for the festive trading season, when most discretionary retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits for the year – and there are positive signs it’ll be a buoyant sales period.”

And while it seems most retailers will be open by Christmas, the Victorian government announced over the weekend bricks-and-mortar retailers will remain closed for at least another seven weeks as part of the state’s roadmap out of lockdown, which is likely to hit the industry with another $6 billion of lost revenue according to Zahra.

“We appreciate the health and safety of the community needs to come first, but we can’t hide our concern for vulnerable retailers who will have been continuously closed for 13 weeks in total – which will sadly be unsustainable for some,” Zahra said.

Last week the ARA said the holiday season was likely to bring in $11 billion to the industry, with Australians likely to spend the same, or more, than they did last year.

To prepare, Australia Post has been running a recruitment drive, and has opened another 1600 potential roles around the country to fill the void in an increasingly overburdened delivery industry.

“At the moment, every day feels like Christmas at Australia Post,” the company’s executive general manager people and culture, Sue Davies, said.

“We’re on the lookout for people to join us and help deliver and process record volumes across the country.”

This story first appeared on our sister publication Inside Retail