Shoppers are set to return with a vengeance this festive season after being forced to stay away amid extended COVID-19 lockdowns over the past few months.
Retailers expect Australian consumers to spend a whopping $60 billion in shops and online over the Christmas trading period that extends from mid-November until the end of December.
National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb is urging shoppers to support local retailers, given many have endured a difficult 2021.
"A silver lining to lockdowns is that when restrictions are lifted it does result in strong consumer spending from pent up demand," she said.
"As horrible as 2021 has been for retailers who have been in prolonged lockdown, at least they'll be open in time to cash in on Christmas."
Extended Delta lockdowns across NSW and Victoria resulted in a sharp drop in retail turnover during the September quarter as more than half of Australia's population was forced to stay at home.
It did drive online spending to record levels, though, and that momentum is expected to continue.
Overall sales are expected to increase by a robust 8 per cent across the nation over the Christmas period last year.
Online sales are expected to soar 51 per cent to $8.2 billion due to changing consumer behaviour and the growing popularity of events such as Cyber Monday.
"Even prior to the pandemic there was a growing trend of shoppers knocking off Christmas purchases earlier than traditionally was the case. Lockdowns and the subsequent drive towards online shopping has turbo-charged this change in consumer behaviour," Ms Lamb said.
However, she still expects plenty of action in physical stores with consumers expected to take full advantage of once again getting out of the house to soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
The highest forecasted spending will be in New South Wales at $19 billion, followed by Victoria at $15.5 billion and Queensland at $12.4 billion.
Shoppers in Western Australia and South Australia are expected to spend $6.6 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively.
Australian Associated Press