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Sydney retailers optimistic, despite economic -

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Sydney retailers optimistic, despite economic turmoil

The World Today - Friday, 19 December , 2008 12:34:00

Reporter: Michael Edwards

ELEANOR HALL: With the global financial crisis drying up credit and confidence worldwide Australian
retailers have been bracing for a tough Christmas trading season.

But the Federal Government has been handing out billions of dollars to try to get people into the

Michael Edwards took to the streets of Sydney's busy central business district to gauge the mood.

(Shopping mall music.)

FEMALE 1: All right, $59.95.

FEMALE 2: Okay, thank you.

FEMALE 1: How are you going to pay for that?

FEMALE 2: Credit please.

FEMALE 1: Okay.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Christmas, the season of celebration, is also a crucial sales period for

FEMALE 1: And just sign here please.

ARTHUR LICHAA: Hugo Boss suits, we carry Studio Italia, we carry Giorgio Cavalli, we carry Senator.
We carry...

MICHAEL EDWARDS: In the heart of Sydney's CBD Arthur Lichaa runs a men's clothing store. He's
worked there for the past 35 years so he says he's in a good position to judge the Christmas retail

Arthur Lichaa says this year despite a slow start sales have picked up.

ARTHUR LICHAA: The sales lead up to Christmas has been a little bit slow but it has been good. I
think the money which was given to the pensioners and to the young people has sort of made them
realise to buy a few Christmas presents and we've been busy on the Christmas stuff.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: The Pitt Street Mall in Sydney's CBD is one of the city's major retail areas, a
place where a wide cross section of society go to shop for Christmas.

Marianne Davies runs an antique store just off the mall. She says all of the coverage that the
global economic crisis received in the media made her nervous in the lead up to the Christmas

MARIANNE DAVIES: It did make us very nervous because we weren't sure whether people would be
spending money and with what's being told in the news and what people are watching I felt that they
were feeling rather apprehensive about spending money at Christmas time.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: She says so far this Christmas, sales have been good.

MARIANNE DAVIES: They've been excellent this year. I haven't noticed a downturn at all.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: How about compared to last year?

MARIANNE DAVIES: Our figures have actually been better than they were last year.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Many other stores in Sydney's CBD also expressed this mood of optimism. The
manager of a large bookstore told The World Today he was above budget this December. At an
electronic goods stores the manager there said sales of DVDS and computer games were especially

Brendan King runs Crumpler, a store which sells specialised luggage and accessories.

BRENDAN KING: I guess we've got a lot of new kind of new products out that have been really
successful so yeah.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: So the mood of doom and gloom hasn't translated into sales?

BRENDAN KING: No, I don't think so. I mean I think people at the end of the day if they want
something enough they're going to get it, regardless of whether they've got money or not.

MICHAEL EDWARDS: Total retail sales in December last year were $23.4-billion. The chief economist
at ANZ Saul Eslake estimates this season the figure could be between $24-billion to $24.5-billion.
But he's not sure 2009 will be such a good year for retailers.

SAUL ESLAKE: Obviously we're looking at a significant rise in unemployment during 2009 although as
of November there hadn't been much rise in unemployment yet. And as unemployment rises more visibly
will be inclined I think to be more cautious about spending, not only those unfortunate people who
lose their jobs but those who become concerned that they could be the next to lose their jobs will
be reigning in their spending.

So although Christmas spending may be okay, there are some significant clouds on the outlook for
consumer spending through 2009.

ADAM: Current affairs magazine. Help the homeless, disadvantaged, yes it's the Big Issue Christmas

MICHAEL EDWARDS: And back out on the Pitt Street Mall not everyone is feeling a yuletide surge of
consumer confidence.

Adam sells the Big Issue magazine. He's seen a big drop in sales.

ADAM: I think it might be because of the stock exchange thing that happened. I think it's affected
the economy or something. People are scared I think maybe and I don't know there's just lack of
sales, lack of donations. Not as good as last year or the year before.

ELEANOR HALL: And that story on Christmas retail trade compiled by Michael Edwards.