Traders begin new year on a high after sales splurge

BALLARAT retailers have started the New Year with a spring in their step after a welcome upsurge in sales over the Christmas period.

Despite the ongoing pressure of online sales and an often depressed market in 2013, things have started to look up for Ballarat shops as they continue to mirror a national trend that predicted $15.1 billion would ring through Australian retail tills this Christmas and New Year season.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan Research estimates a significant increase on $14.6 billion spent by consumers nationally last year. 

Midway through the busiest period, Ballarat retailers seem to be sticking to the predicted increase, according to Commerce Ballarat chairman Andrew Rowan. 

“I have spoken to a couple of retailers and they are happy with the trading period and that sort of increase; a toy retailer I spoke to had those sort of figures flowing through,” Mr Rowan said. 

“December started a little bit flat but kind of picked up and, generally speaking, most people are happy.”

Mr Rowan said Ballarat would have definitely reflected the predicted national increase.

“On Boxing Day I went down the street and had a look and there was plenty of people,” he said. 

“I haven’t really heard anything really negative so far.” 

The change comes after some uncertainty, according to Mr Rowan.

“There was a lot of expectation ahead of the election and you saw the business confidence figures increase coming into the election and immediately after,” he  said. 

“But I think what becomes evident after that, is there is no immediate fix for anything and the economy goes back into the way it has been behaving in recent  years.” 

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman stressed the figures were estimates, however he said he expected them to be relatively accurate. 

ARA has been releasing these figures for the past 20 years.

“We have pretty much been on the mark most of the time,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

He said while the jump in terms of figures was not the best in comparison to previous years, the total figure put this Christmas in as one of their best. 

“What we did find out was that on Boxing Day and on the few days after we had a much stronger result from retailers than we expected, that is good news,” Mr Zimmerman said.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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