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Buoyant period for WA retailers

RETAILERS are looking forward to a record-breaking Christmas shopping season following a difficult 18-month period during which businesses have endured the introduction of the GST, a global economic downturn and declining consumer confidence and spending.

Retail Traders Association (RTA) manager Brian Reynolds is predicting a record pre-Christmas sales period, with a 2 per cent increase in spending expected compared with last year’s figures.

The RTA is tipping total retail sales of $1.7 billion during December, with Christmas-related spending predicted to equate to $480 million.

Garden City Shopping Centre manager Ian Spence believes retailers and customers are confident in the State’s economic future, with the public demonstrating this confidence by purchasing non-essential items in the lead up to Christmas.

“There has been a steady increase in demand for Garden City Gift Vouchers as Christmas presents to family and close friends,” Mr Spence said.

“We will sell approximately $600,000 (of gift vouchers) in December, with the bulk of that amount spent during late December during the centre-wide post Christmas sales.”

The Christmas trading period is one of the busiest and most popular trading periods of the year for retailers, and extended trading hours over the two weeks leading into Christmas is seen as one of the reasons behind an increase in customer numbers during this period.

Mr Spence told Business News that, on each of the additional six-hour Sunday trading days last year, Garden City Shopping Centre attracted an average of 31,000 customers, which is comparable to a non-Christmas 8.5-hour weekday trading period.

He said Garden City Shopping Centre should exceed this number of customers over both extended trading Sundays.

Rockingham City Shopping Centre marketing manager Julia Zivinovic also is expecting strong traffic and sales figures in the final week leading up to Christmas, with early indications showing a steady increase each week on the previous week’s numbers.

“Extended trading hours, especially during the final week to Christmas, are of benefit to shift workers and customers who work traditional office hours, as it gives them the freedom to shop when it suits their particular lifestyle,” she said.

The RTA is actively involved in lobbying the Government to deregulate retail trading hours, with more than 85 per cent of respondents to a recent RTA survey supporting the idea of more flexible trading hours.

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