By Martin Vedris
SYDNEY: The Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) has labeled Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s $10.4 billion payout as a boost for retailers following fears that the US recession could curb consumer spending here in the lead up to Christmas.
Last night Rudd made a televised announcement to the nation saying “we are going through the worst financial crisis in our lifetime’ and “I’ve described it as the economic equivalent of a national security crisis”.
Rudd’s rescue package includes $4.8 billion for one-off lump sum payments to Australia’s approximately four million pensioners, $3.9 billion for low and middle income families, and $1.5 billion towards increasing grants for first home buyers and first home builders, amongst other pledges.
“The Rudd Government’s $10.4 billion economic stimulus package will hopefully resuscitate the flagging economy,” Australian National Retailers Association Margy Osmond said is a statement today.
The ANRA reported that retailers have suffered a tough year, with no real growth in the first six months of 2008 and modest growth in July and August.
“This shows that there appears to be a tentative recovery in retail spending,” Osmond continued. “We would have liked to add to this momentum with earlier payments to pensioners and families.
“That said, these payments will undoubtedly boost Christmas retail activity, giving many shoppers the confidence to return to their normal spending habits.
“ANRA’s annual survey of Christmas shopping trends shows that about 70 per cent of people wait until December to commence their Christmas shopping.
“Our research also shows that four out of 10 Australians spend up to $50 on each person they purchase gifts for. Over 20 per cent spend between $50 and $75 on each person.
“Shoppers planning to cut back this Christmas may change their intentions, knowing that relief is in the pipeline.”