In Christmas present terms, retailers can expect a few stocking fillers rather than a festive haul over the holiday season.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says shoppers are expected to put about $41.2 billion through retail tills from now until December 25.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said those predictions, prepared by Roy Morgan Research, represented a steady 3.9 per cent gain on sales of $39.7 billion during the corresponding period last year.
"While we by no means expect shoppers to be beating down the doors to go Christmas shopping, especially in the early stages, the figures represent growth which will see retailers hear some rings of their tills," Mr Zimmerman said.
"Retailers are holding their collective breath for another interest rate cut in December, as they know this may give consumers the incentive they need to go out and get some of the Christmas shopping done in early December as well as the usual late December rush."
Food and hospitality sales were on the way up but retailers that relied heavily on Christmas sales, such as clothing and department stores, would be less lucky, he said.
Despite that the big discretionary retailers have been performing well this morning. Myer - which reported higher first quarter sales - is up 5.5 per cent to $2.11, David Jones is up 3.7 per cent to $2.55 and Harvey Norman has risen 1.1 per cent to $1.83. The supermarkets have done less well so far with Coles owner Wesfarmers up 0.9 per cent to #34.25 and Woolworths down 0.7 per cent at $28.22.
Canberra retailers could expect the biggest improvement in 2012, with ACT sales for the Christmas period projected at $764 million - a jump of 6.9 per cent year-on-year.
Tasmanian retailers fared worst, with a 4.2 per cent year-on-year sales drop, down to $788 million.
NSW had the highest projected overall sales for the festive season with retail spending predicted at $12.6 billion.