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Report: Christmas cheer to bypass retail sector

Retailers aren’t expecting a very merry Christmas.

That’s the message from new survey data based on 1,200 responses from industry executives, which has found that optimism about the upcoming December quarter is down 42 per cent on last year and 67 per cent on two years ago.

The data, compiled by Dun & Bradstreet’s September Business Expectations Survey, also found that the retail sector, including e-commerce, is the least upbeat industry in the country, with 55.4 per cent of firms surveyed saying they are more optimistic about business growth in the year ahead and 35.7 per cent saying they were less optimistic.

That’s compared to wholesalers, 69.8 per cent of whom are more optimistic, while only 20.8 per cent are less optimistic.

“We see a number of trends affecting the low retail expectations that are coming through in our Business Expectations Survey, including low consumer confidence, political uncertainty and the impact of market disruption and international competition,” Dun & Bradstreet CEO Simon Bligh said.

“As pay packets get consumed by large mortgages and high rental payments, there’s less to be spent on the silly season and less reasons for retailers to smile.”

Retailers surveyed also indicated they were less likely to bring on more people over the Christmas period then they have in previous years.

“The recent official data on employment has been particularly strong which is consistent with the previous employment expectations and actual results. The level of employment expectations remains positive into the December quarter although there has been a small decline in the expectations index in recent months,” Stephen Koukoulas, Dun & Bradstreet economic adviser, said.

“That said, employment growth is likely to remain positive through to the end of the year,” he added.

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