By Patrick Avenell

The Santas working at Harvey Norman stores will be enthusiastically greeting children and ringing out the ho, ho, hos with increased gusto this morning, with news that the retail group’s sales are up for the third week in a row.

Writing to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning, Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey gave notice of exactly what effect some Christmas cheer, with a healthy dose of Prime Ministerial generosity, can have on trading.

“Like for like written sales for the 28 days ended 14th December 2008 (sic) from the franchised “Harvey Norman” stores in Australia increased by 4.5% when compared to the same period last year,” wrote Harvey to the ASX.

This increase comes a week after Harvey reported a 1.2 per cent increase in like for like written sales. This added bump is good news not just for Harvey and the various Harvey Norman franchisees, but for the industry in general, with increased spending at this group meaning a general shift upwards in consumer sentiment.