Christmas gifts and presents in shopping trolley with christmas decorations and blurred lights on christmas tree background.

Wrapped in some caution.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is expecting solid but unspectacular retail trading this Christmas.

ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said ARA/Roy Morgan Research forecasts for pre-Christmas trade offered some cheer for a sector that has struggled in 2019 with Australians expected to spend almost $53 billion from November 14 to December 24. However, the forecasts came with a cautionary note: “Predicated on the regions ‘getting lucky’ by avoiding bushfires or other natural disasters,” he said.

The forecast of a 2.6% retail sales growth from the equivalent period in 2018 reflected the difficult year the sector has faced in 2019 but offered retailers some cheer and the prospect of better times in 2020. “While the headline figure is down on 2018, it’s better than we have seen in recent months,” he said.

Around $8 billion was set to be spent on “other retail” which included online, and together with spending on clothing, footwear and accessories, was poised to deliver the strongest increase, 3.7%, across all retail categories.

Queensland and Victoria led the predicted pre-Christmas sales growth, which Zimmerman said mirrored trading trends seen throughout the year in ABS retail sales data.

He said the ARA and Roy Morgan work together to produce the only professionally researched industry Christmas predictions in Australia, that offered a comprehensive preview of retail trade ahead of Christmas.