Casino Arum owners Margaret George (left) and Sally Kennedy admit there is a drop in sales, but ‘not as bad as everyone says’.
Casino Arum owners Margaret George (left) and Sally Kennedy admit there is a drop in sales, but ‘not as bad as everyone says’. Jacklyn Wagner

Retailers not merry over Christmas sales

MARIA Dorrington has run the Casino Toyland Music & Pool Supplies shop for 16 years and says that this is the worst run-up to Christmas she has had.

“It's definitely quieter,” she said.

“We have had our busy periods, but then it dies out. It is really what's going to happen early next year when we don't have Christmas that I am worried about.”

After the best Christmas in 10 years last year, retailers are bracing for a rocky 2009.

National sales are expected to grow a mere 2 to 2.5 per cent this Christmas, after a 7.6pc jump last year, Richard Evans, Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association, said.

And there is no official relief in sight, with widely respected forecaster Access Economics tipping retail sales growth will fall to 0.1pc this financial year from 4.5pc last year.

“It's a consumer market right now,” Mr Evans said. “If consumers go into a store and don't get the price they like, many are making offers that are being meet.”

He said retailers had been trying to get consumers back into shops since consumer confidence plummeted in September.

Many retailers also brought forward to mid-October the Christmas sales which usually start in December, in the hope of generating cash flow, he said.

Still, Mike Haddin, Manager of Chandlers Lismore and a board member of the Lismore Chamber of Commerce, has noticed a turn-around following the Rudd Government's stimulus package.

“If you take in last week's trade, retailers have a little bit of a smile on their faces,” he said. “Last Friday was one of the biggest Fridays we have had going into Christmas.”

Margaret George, owner of Arum Casino, is also more upbeat following the Government's package.

“People are still buying,” she said. “There certainly is a downturn, but it's not as bad as everyone says it is.”



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