Spending time at shops

THE Australian Retailers Association and Roy Morgan Research say shoppers are likely to spend more than $48.1 billion this Christmas.

In fact at last year's Boxing Day sales alone across the country, we spent $50 million.

That seems like the Gross Domestic Product of a small country, not a string of family budgets put aside for gift-giving and modest splurging on ourselves.

New rules that allow longer trading hours for supermarkets, department stores and specialty shops this year may even see us pip the forecast expenditure this year.

But at what cost?

Certainly, shopaholics, shift workers and mums and dads of young children may be rubbing their hands with glee that we have finally caught up to shopping hours in other parts of Australia and the world.

The big retail players similarly will be happy to allow us more time to part with our hard-earned cash.

But in this age of overblown credit cards, easy cash loans and pay-later plans, can we be trusted not to overdo it on the spending when there's so many "specials” and colourful marketing luring us to buy more than we can afford?

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman doesn't believe that the bigger supermarkets operating later would affect smaller independents. He says it is time for retailers big and small to embrace change. White's IGA owner Roz White disagrees saying any time of the day that larger retailers trade means fewer people are shopping in smaller stores.

Only time will tell.

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