The Government’s stimulus package, lower interest rates and lower fuel costs have apparently regained consumer confidence over the Christmas period, with shoppers spending $37 billion in the lead up to the holiday period.

This is a two per cent rise from last year’s Christmas period. The figure has been taken both ways by retailers due to the fact that it is well below last year’s figure of 7.5 per cent, in addition it fell below the September inflation rate of five percent and wage growth of 3.3 per cent.

But retailers have remained optimistic and sense that consumer confidence is definitely regaining.

Richard Evans, of the Australian Retailers Association stated “two per cent growth is significant given the hardship that these folks have had”.

He also commented that he thinks the devastation of the global economic crisis has definitely changed consumer’s spending habits, and created more “thrifty” and “credit savvy” shoppers.

A survey by the Australian Centre for Retail Studies has backed up the claims of most retailers, showing that there has been a dramatic reduction in consumer spending, around half of people cut back on credit-card spending and tried to reduce debt over the period, but optimistically 51 per cent still claimed to spend roughly the same or even more than this time last year.

It seems that the constraints of the economic crisis are lifting ever so slightly, both for retailers and consumers alike.

The official December retail sales figures will be released on 4 February.