Christmas sales were late and frantic

A slow start to December, with trade picking up as the month went on, then a frantic rush the last few days before Christmas and the few days following.

That seemed to be the pattern across the country, with many retailers agreeing that footwear was strong, apparel soft and family games and equipment selling well.

Those stores in holiday regions reported very good sales in camping and fishing, plus watersports as the weather improved around the country.

Ascendia Retail’s chief executive John Joyce reported that, “ We were happy with our December result and have had a very good start to January. It seems that Christmas gets later and later and in the last few days we had a phenomenal sales rush.”

The Team Sports buying group’s Kevin O’Hanlon says that most stores reported double digit growth in December and that the response to the Christmas catalogue was “the best ever.”

“We are cautiously optimistic for the coming year, with business as usual because life in sport goes on.”

Many suppliers who offer refill services had their views on festive trading:

Aquatic sports sales eased into December, but as soon as blue skies and sun appeared around the country, “ it all went off,” reports Graeme Dudley, national sales manager of Land & Sea Sports.

“Many of our products are impulse buys for holiday makers and fit into the gift-giving classification too,” so it means they rush off shelf. And because the Warriewood-based company offers a “very slick” refill service, the team knows just how well their categories are selling at retail.

From about two weeks before Christmas, Dudley says, it “has been a blast with all hands on deck – it has been a busier Christmas and New Year sales period for us, than for the past two Christmas/holiday times.”

Fitness and wheeled products sold very well in retail over the festive and sales season, reports Sean Thomas, of ASP Sportz, although it was the smaller fitness items, rather than big ticket, which moved well. Scooters and streetboards were very popular and now the weather has warmed up, aquatic sports brands will sell well.

“Footwear and apparel were tight over Christmas/ New Year,” Thomas says, “and many retailers find that the team sports registration months of February/March/April are actually their biggest months.”

Equipment retail sales “struggled” reports Noel Moig of Noel Moig Agencies. Cricket sales were moderate and came late, although some specialists did reasonably well. Tennis and boxing fitness dropped off, with a slight spike for Christmas. “Retailers are struggling across all categories, judging by the slowness in refill orders,” Moig says.

• Post Christmas sales are the key to good season trading, reports the National Retail Association, Australia’s largest retail organisation with more than 3000 members and affiliates across all states and territories. Executive Director Gary Black said this years post-Christmas sales are critically important to the achievement of financial targets.

The first day of the post-Christmas sales (Boxing Day in most states) is the single biggest trading day of the year for most retailers, says the association. Boxing Day trading in NSW was estimated to generate $50M in employee remuneration and more than $300M in sales. Sports retail chains agreed that their sales were very strong on the public holidays.

• The weekly Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence rating rose for the fifth week in a row during December, which put the rating at its highest level since March 2008 but remains 23.8 points below its level of December 2007.

Just days before Christmas 46 percent of Australians said “now is a good time to buy” major household items – 26 percent said “now is a bad time to buy.”
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