Pre-Christmas discounts on cards as confidence slumps

SHOPPERS may be treated to a flood of pre-Christmas discounts as retailers, dealing with an unexpected slump in consumer confidence and lacklustre economic conditions, bring forward their plans to trump traditional Boxing Day sales.

SHOPPERS may be treated to a flood of pre-Christmas discounts as retailers, dealing with an unexpected slump in consumer confidence and lacklustre economic conditions, bring forward their plans to trump traditional Boxing Day sales.

With less than two weeks until Christmas, the nation's troubled retail sector is fighting for every discretionary dollar from consumers and is expected to dazzle shoppers in the final days of December with a string of discounts.

Fresh research from Deloitte Access Economics suggests for the first time in three years the economy is providing retailers with an opportunity to make money this holiday season, but but many will be forced to engage in deep discounting.

"For retailers it won't be the Christmas of their dreams, but it may provide them with a vital ingredient that has been missing over the previous two years - decent cash flow," said Deloitte partner David Rumbens.

But there is a hint of desperation is in the air. Mr Rumbens said retailers were feeling the pressure to offer discounts earlier than usual to generate revenue after two years of flat to negative sales momentum.

Last month's "click frenzy" where retailers offered an array of discounts online for 24 hours was swamped with interest from shoppers to such an extent the site crashed.

The Deloitte Christmas Retailers Survey showed that almost a third of retailers that are expecting to discount, planned to do so early.

"It's hardly a perfect set of circumstances as jobs growth in Australia remains anaemic," Mr Rumbens said. "But interest rates have been slashed, wages growth is solid, house prices are stabilising, and consumer confidence has picked up."

Malcolm Maiden— Page 6

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