Extra COVID-safety officers will be on hand at shopping centres in the ACT for this year's Boxing Day sales, with Canberrans set to spend more at the register despite the COVID-related hit to the economy.
An estimated $57 million is expected to be spent by Canberra consumers on Boxing Day this year alone, a more than 5 per cent increase on the $54 million spent in the ACT last year.
The Australian Retailers Association has forecast that $367 million will be spent during the post-Christmas sale period between Boxing Day and January 15, up from $347 million the year before.
While sales in physical stores are set to increase modestly this year, online purchases are expected to surge, rising 42 per cent to an expected $930 million this Boxing Day nationally.
With Boxing Day set to bring in some of the largest crowds to shopping centres this year since the start of the pandemic, Canberra shopping centres are taking precautions to prevent further COVID cases.
Canberra Centre general manager Gary Stewart said the centre had been following advice from ACT Health officials in the lead up to Boxing Day.
"Alongside our adherence to our approved COVID-safe plan, we have upheld a robust range of precautionary in-centre measures designed to help stop the spread of the virus within our centre," Mr Stewart said. "To further encourage COVID-safe practices, our social distancing ambassadors will continue to roam the centre during the sales period, remind and encouraging our community to socially distance."
Increased disinfecting of common areas and hand-sanitising stations will also be installed.
Centre manager for the Canberra Outlet Centre Jodee Marques said management would be monitoring the situation in NSW and the northern beaches in Sydney and would modify safety plans accordingly.
Extra staff will be used for monitor public areas at the outlet centre during the post-Christmas rush.
"The safety of our shoppers is our highest priority," Ms Marques said. "It is imperative we do not take any chances."
Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said there was good momentum and consumer confidence heading into the Boxing Day sales after a difficult year for the industry.
"For many retailers, 2020 has been a year to forget, so it's fantastic to see the sector finish the year off on a high and we're all looking to 2021 with fresh optimism," Mr Zahra said.
"In-store traffic may be down this year as more consumers discover the convenience of online shopping, however, the retail industry has done a fantastic job ensuring their stores are COVID-safe for the Christmas shopping season."
The sales come as recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed retail turnover rose 7 per cent in November this year.
Turnover was also up 13.2 per cent compared to November 2019, with the Black Friday sales helping with the increase.
Chief executive of the Canberra Business Chamber Graham Catt said the shift to further online purchasing was expected to continue during the Boxing Day sales.
With many people discovering local retailers during the lockdown period, Mr Catt said that was set to boost sales in the ACT in the days ahead.
"People have grown to appreciate their local business and small business and they're looking for ways to support them," Mr Catt said.
"That would then flow through from other businesses in Canberra and to help out other Canberrans during 2021. Consumer confidence will see more people take advantage of the Boxing Day sales and support local businesses."