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Pre-Christmas retail trade for 2021 predicted to remain steady year-on-year at $58 billion

Australia’s largest peak body for retail, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), and strategic partner Roy Morgan are predicting this year’s pre-Christmas spending will broadly match last year’s high and be significantly above 2019 pre-pandemic spending.
Australia’s largest peak body for retail, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), and strategic partner Roy Morgan are predicting this year’s pre-Christmas spending will broadly match last year’s high and be significantly above 2019 pre-pandemic spending.  
 
The ARA-Roy Morgan 2021 pre-Christmas Retail Sales predictions forecast that overall spending will come in at $58.8 billion, virtually unchanged on last year, but up 11.3% on pre-pandemic conditions. 
 
Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine believes this is good news for Australia: “Our sales forecasting reveals a country on the move; a consumer economy exhibiting all the signs of pent-up demand.

“No one believed that spending this coming Christmas could match the highs of last year, but as the population emerges from the most punishing crisis in a hundred years, shoppers are looking to reward themselves and their families.

“The sales aren’t all going to be instore, however. The COVID 5-year digital acceleration means many more Australians are shopping online, so this Christmas we will see much more of a mix between in-store and online shopping,” Ms. Levine said.

“There’s a lot of Christmas cheer in these numbers, with the overall trend looking positive, and that is great news for small businesses and discretionary retailers who have suffered through some of the longest lockdowns in the world this year. The Christmas trading period is critical as it’s the time when most discretionary retailers make up to two thirds of their profits for the year,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said. 
 
“Although the ARA-Roy Morgan data predicts the impact of Covid lockdowns will continue to suppress retail sales, year-end spending in NSW and Victoria will bounce back strongly in December. And those states not impacted by lockdowns will enjoy a more gradual ramp-up in sales growth leading into Christmas. The overall trend is looking positive.” 

ARA-Roy Morgan 2021 pre-Christmas Retail Sales (by state and territory) 
 
National retail trade for pre-Christmas 2021 is predicted to be in-line with 2020, with growth in Victoria, Tasmania and ACT; NSW and WA largely flat; and some contraction in Queensland, SA and NT off the back of strong pre-Christmas sales in 2020. 

Pre-Christmas sales by state and territory ($million) 

2020 (actual) 

2021 (forecast) 

Change 

New South Wales 

18,370 

18,285 

-0.5% 

Victoria 

15,214 

15,418 

1.3% 

Queensland 

12,274 

12,091 

-1.5% 

South Australia 

3,710 

3,604 

-2.9% 

Western Australia 

6,444 

6,480 

0.6% 

Tasmania 

1,211 

1,261 

4.2% 

Northern Territory 

582 

565 

-2.8% 

Australian Capital Territory 

1,116 

1,128 

1.1% 

Total 

58,921 

58,834 

-0.1% 

ARA-Roy Morgan 2021 pre-Christmas Retail Sales (by category) 
 
By category, the predicted year-on-year change is more uneven than the breakdown by state, with double-digit growth predicted for hospitality offsetting falls in household goods and department stores. 

Pre-Christmas sales by category ($million) 

2020 (actual) 

2021 (forecast) 

Change 

Food 

23,988 

23,915 

-0.3% 

Household Goods 

10,920 

10,145 

-7.1% 

Clothing, Footwear, Accessories 

4,776 

4,721 

-1.1% 

Department Stores 

3,356 

3,092 

-7.9% 

Other Retailing 

8,741 

8,945 

2.3% 

Hospitality 

7,141 

8,016 

12.3% 

Total 

58,921 

58,834 

-0.1% 

The Roy Morgan data also values (for the first time) the impact of the most recent lockdowns on retail trade at $131 million per day across the economy. 
 
“Unsurprisingly, these impacts have been most keenly felt in NSW and Victoria, at $40.4 million and $55.2 million per day respectively. And it’s also unsurprising that the most impacted categories were hospitality and clothing, footwear and accessories, at $71.7 million and $55.7 million per day respectively,” Mr. Zahra said. 
 
“These impacts will continue to weigh on annual growth in retail trade and will be compounded by the reduction in Government stimulus payments and the end of 'mortgage holidays' for tens of thousands of Australians in the coming months. We also have to remember that the sector is cycling some very high numbers off the back of a bumper Christmas last year. 
 
“Overall though, the outlook is positive in the lead-up to Christmas and there’s a lot to be cheerful about in this years’ predictions. 
 
“With elevated online sales, suppressed shopping demand, global supply chain disruptions and local delivery issues, the key message to consumers for this Christmas ‘tis the season to shop early,” Mr. Zahra concluded. 

About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is Australia’s largest independent Australian research company, with offices in each state, as well as in the U.S. and U.K. A full-service research organisation, Roy Morgan has over 75 years’ experience collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

About the Australian Retailers Association

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s oldest, largest and most diverse retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.3 million Australians. As Australia’s leading retail representative group, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies around 7500 independent, national and international retail members with more than 100,000 retail shop fronts. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive benefits and more, visit www.retail.org.au.

Media Enquiries:
Dominic Cuschieri
0418 224 072
dominic.cuschieri@retail.org.au



About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate

40%-60%

25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%

1,000

±3.0

±2.7

±1.9

±1.3

5,000

±1.4

±1.2

±0.8

±0.6

7,500

±1.1

±1.0

±0.7

±0.5

10,000

±1.0

±0.9

±0.6

±0.4

20,000

±0.7

±0.6

±0.4

±0.3

50,000

±0.4

±0.4

±0.3

±0.2