The eagerly anticipated annual Christmas retail sales forecast from the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) and Roy Morgan Research predicts a 2.8 per cent rise to $54.3 billion – up from $52.9 billion in 2019.

There are winners and losers across the six major categories. The most deeply affected areas following this year’s Covid-19 lockdowns are: Hospitality (-18.7% to $6.09 billion) and Clothing, Footwear and Accessories (- 12.2% to $3.71 billion).

Not surprisingly, food is expected to enjoy the biggest lift – up 10 per cent from 2019 to $23.8 billion.

Household goods are also expected to keep up their strong performance, increasing 9.6 per cent to $9.74 billion.

Department stores are on track for a small slip of 2 per cent this year to $2.98 billion.

Other retailing, which includes beauty and personal care and online sales, is expected to surge 6.6 per cent to $8.045 billion.

NSW and Victoria have suffered more than other states during the coronavirus crisis and will not be bolstered by the usual influx of international tourists over the Festive Season this year.

But NSW is forecast to remain the number one state market with $16.64 billion – down 0.7 per cent from 2019.

Victoria is expected to slide 3.3 percent by contrast to last year to $13.37 billion.

Massive government stimulus such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments are expected to fuel double digit sales growth in WA ( + 14.2% to $6.38 billion), South Australia (+11.8% to $3.82 billion), Tasmania (+10.5% to $1.21 billion and the NT (+10.2% to $550million).

Queensland just missed double digit forecast growth as the third largest spending state – up 9.3 per cent to $11.77 billion.

Retail sales growth of 2.8 per cent year-on-year would be an incredible achievement given the barriers that retailers have bravely faced throughout 2020, notes Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA.

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