IT IS shaping up to be a happy Christmas for many of Canberra's retailers, with national brands and smaller players in the capital predicting strong sales this festive season.
Margy Osmond, the chief executive of the Australian National Retailers Association, which represents some of the Australia's biggest retail companies including the Just Group and David Jones, said ACT retailing results had improved significantly over the past six months.
''We would anticipate this buoyancy to continue through the Christmas period for Canberra,'' she said. ''We are predicting a growth rate across the country of 4 per cent to 4.5 per cent in 2012, so if the ACT continues to grow a little faster than the nation as a whole, local retailers will be doing very well.''
Ms Osmond said the ACT was performing well against more traditional retail centres, with September figures for ACT retailing showing a year-on-year growth of 5.7 per cent, compared with Victoria's annual growth of 1.5 per cent.
It is Julie Nichols' third Christmas as owner and operator of her Shop Handmade Canberra store in Civic, which sells products made by local, small-scale crafts people.
Ms Nichols' said Christmas trading so far had been ''insane'', and she was preparing for the business to get even busier before the big day.
''We haven't had a downturn at all this year, we've tracked quite well, so we are currently on just under 25 per cent up what we did last year, and we thought last year was pretty sensational,'' she said.
reckon Ms Nichols' said as a small-business owner she had been forced to think strategically about how to approach the Christmas period, including holding the store's VIP Christmas event earlier this year, with good results.
''Last year, although [the VIP night] was very successful it was already a busy time for us, so we held it two or three weeks ago and our sales were spot on what they were last year in the middle of the Christmas rush,'' she said.
Ms Osmond said the long-term average growth rate for the ACT retailing sector was 6.6 per cent, compared with Victoria's 6 per cent.