Interest rate hike blamed for sluggish Christmas sales

Last month's interest rate rises are partly behind the sluggish sales that have been seen among retailers this holiday season, an expert has said.

According to a new survey by the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), more than 65 per cent of the country's retailers are experiencing worse trading than this time last year.

Speaking to the AAP, Russell Zimmerman , ARA executive director, noted that November's interest rate hike, higher utility bills and continuing uncertainty following the global financial crisis had all dampened consumer confidence.

"By all accounts this hasn't been a very joyous Christmas for retailers who are slashing prices pre-Christmas just to get consumers in the door," he added.

Mr Zimmerman said that the final days of the holiday season will be critical if retailers are to meet projections of $39.9 billion in national retail sales for the Christmas trading period.

The Courier-Mail has already reported that a number of major retail chains are seeking to attract shoppers by starting their Boxing Day sales online on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

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