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Bells won’t be jingling for retailers

THE trees and the tinsel are about to go up and staff are pulling out their Santa hats, but the Christmas trading period is not shaping up to be a very merry one for Perth retailers.

According to industry assoc-iations, up until two weeks ago the retail sector had been showing signs of moving out of its

slump.

The most recent retail figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show a slight, but steady increase, in seasonally adjusted retail turnover from October 2000 to June this year.

But the World Trade Centre tragedy and subsequent fall in the US stock market, coupled with the collapse of national airline icon Ansett, means many people are likely tighten their purse strings.

Retail Traders Association manager Brian Reynolds said the downturn was likely to be greater than originally expected.

“Gifts will still be bought but the individual value or the quantity is likely to be less,” Mr Reynolds said. “It is not going to be a boomer of a Christmas, there is no question about that.

“And then there is also the disruption that traditionally comes with a federal election, but hopefully that will all be over by the time it gets really busy.”

For many smaller retailers, a good Christmas trading period this year was absolutely critical following last year’s quiet festive season, according to WA Retailers Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey.

“Typically retailers look at getting between 40 and 70 per cent of their annual turnover from Christmas trading,” Mr Dempsey said.

“Last year the introduction of the GST badly affected Christmas trading and a lot of smaller retailers are really hanging out for this year’s Christmas period.”

Mr Reynolds agreed, and noted clothing retailers especially would be hoping for a better Christmas season.

“This year has been a particularly difficult for apparel traders, so they will certainly be looking for a boost.”

Another average Christmas would have serious ramifications for smaller retailers, Mr Dempsey said.

“Two bad Christmases will mean small retailers will not employ people, they themselves will stop spending ... and then it all becomes very difficult,” he said.

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