Shoppers 'are starting to feel more optimistic'

Retailers will be feeling incredibly anxious heading into the busiest few weeks of their year.

Many economists have warned the high cost of living and uncertain global financial climate will force a lot of Aussies to rein in their spending this Christmas.

However, store owners have been offered some reassurance by a new study published on November 14th by AMP Capital Shopping Centres, which suggested people will not be as tight with their cash as many fear.

The report indicated that Aussies plan to spend more money on electronics, clothes, shoes and even local holidays over the festive period.

In fact, the organisation confirmed this is the first year that shoppers are not expected to spend less in all 18 retail sectors surveyed since the report was first launched in the midst of the global financial crisis.

National Features recently reported that many Aussies are better prepared for this year's festivities, with several banks highlighting an increase in demand for Christmas club savings accounts.

Having put money aside each month, households will be in a stronger position to use their debit and credit cards without being concerned about falling into debt.

Again, a lot of money will be spent online, but the AMP Capital Shopping Centres survey indicated that bricks and mortar stores can also have a very profitable Christmas in 2012.

The study discovered the number of Aussies planning to shop "in-store only" has increased this year, but that doesn't mean retailers can rest on their laurels.

"While online retail is often convenient for certain items, there are signs of shoppers returning to stores who can give them an in-store experience," commented the company's managing director Bryan Hynes.

He added that store owners need to "put the theatre back into retail" if they are to attract customers.

Lush Australia director Mark Lincoln said trading conditions have been tough in 2012, but retailers that have offered in-store experiences that are tailored for each individual have performed well.

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