Retail groups are optimistic that the $45 billion forecast to go through tills in the lead up to Christmas has been spent, but will have to wait until next month when ABS retail trade figures for December 2014 are released to know for sure.

Christmas sales got off to a slow start; ABS retail trade figures for November 2014 released today showed 0.1 per cent increase month on month.

The Australian Retailers Associated (ARA) noted that while “November’s month on month growth was disappointing, year on year retail growth rose 5 per cent (seasonally adjusted, compared to November 2013) – a positive sign for the retail industry.”

Prior to Christmas the ARA and Roy Morgan predicted $45 billion would land in retailers’ tills from 15 November to 24 December 2014. ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said retailers remain hopeful that goal was achieved despite the slow start to sales a month out from Christmas.

“We won’t be able to confirm the actual pre-Christmas spend until December retail figures are released next month. However, after speaking with retailers across the country, many reported a fairly slow start to Christmas sales in November due to the reluctance of consumers to start their holiday shopping early. As usual, consumers left most of their shopping until the last minute,” he said.

Zimmerman said disruption surrounding the Brisbane G20 had a negative impact on retail sales in November.

“The Australian Retail Index (delivered by BDO and Retail Express) stated that accessibility and availability are fundamental to sales, and both were diminished in the lead up to the G20 as barricades and closures were planted to etch a safe zone for the worlds most powerful. There was less traffic in Brisbane’s CBD, shops temporarily suspended operations and a public holiday had been declared – all of which contributed to slower sales.”