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Figures point to bright start to 2002

WITH Christmas sales up by 2 per cent on last year, WA retailers are hoping the festive cheer is an indication of a happy new year.

The corporate collapses of 2001 and the devastating September 11 attacks in the US don’t appear to have made a lasting impression on consumer spending, which is expected to reach $1.7 billion this month.

It is estimated that, of this, $480 million will relate directly to Christmas spending.

“It appears the effects of the terrorist attacks and the corporate collapses have been fairly short lived. The rate of growth of retail sales has picked up and all indications are that next year will be significantly stronger than 2001,” Retail Traders Association manager Brian Reynolds said.

“This comes as a relief for all retailers because it has been a difficult year for all retailers regardless of their size or sector.”

WA Retailers Association chief executive officer Martin Dempsey described the festive season trading as reasonable and said while there had definitely been an increase in the volume of goods sold, he was unsure of profit margins.

Mr Dempsey suggested the big winners during the period were the regional shopping centres, which attracted up to two thirds of all Christmas retail.

His argument was supported by a survey under-taken by Harrison Market Research for the RTA, which showed 64 per cent of participants intended to brave the crowds at regional shopping centres.

About 15 per cent of respondents said they would go to smaller shopping centres, 14 per cent said they would head to the city and 7 per cent would visit shopping strips. Only 2.7 per cent said they’d consider buying over the Internet.

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