Shops experience ‘best 8th December in years’

Retail trade representatives are delighted about “sensational” revenue as hundreds of thousands of Austrians took the opportunity to go shopping on yesterday’s (Weds) national holiday.The 8th of December – which marks the Immaculate Conception of Mary – is traditionally one of the busiest days in the year for the retail trade sector as shops have been allowed to do business as an exception since 2003. Many families go shopping together on that day as schools remain closed.Shop managers of various branches have criticised political decision-makers for years for prohibiting doing business on Sundays. The strong influence of the Roman Catholic Church of Austria has been identified as the reason why the country did not follow the example of many other European countries in allowing business seven days a week.The Viennese Economy Chamber (WKO) said today that the 700,000 people who went shopping in the city yesterday spent around 10 million Euros. Four in 10 Viennese shopkeepers told the WKW they were satisfied with yesterday’s revenue.A study conducted by the authority earlier this year revealed residents of the federal capital are planning to spend 360 Euros on Christmas gifts this year, up by 10 per cent from last year’s average investments.Shopping centre managers in Styria announced that yesterday’s businesses went down “sensationally”, stressing that this 8th December was the “best one in years”. They said shop managers were especially satisfied with clothing and sports equipment sales figures, adding that home entertainment appliance sale figures have been up for weeks.Retail trade officials in the provinces of Carinthia and Tyrol reported that thousands of Italians coming to Austria on yesterday’s holiday to do a significant part of their Christmas shopping.Shopping centre chiefs in the eastern province of Burgenland said they raked in more yesterday than on the same day last year. They explained this also had to do with the high number of residents of Vienna deciding to leave the bustling capital to do their Christmas shopping in a slightly quieter atmosphere.Trade authorities in all nine provinces pointed out many families arrived early at shopping centres to find a good parking spot and have breakfast together in nearby cafés before shops opened their doors at 9am or 10am.Now shop bosses are looking forward to the final two “shopping Saturdays” ahead of Christmas on which takings are traditionally higher than on all other weekends of November and December.Retail trade sector experts also stressed that had were in line for good business figures on the final days of this year and next month when many of those who will be given shop vouchers this Christmas are set to exchange them for clothing, CDs and other products.A research by GfK Austria found that around one out of two Austrians bought vouchers as gifts last Christmas.A poll among more than 1,000 registered users of auction platform eBay’s Austrian website revealed that vouchers are the most favoured presents this year as 20 per cent said they would appreciate receiving them more than other gifts.Meanwhile, RegioData had more uplifting news for the Austrian retail sector earlier this week. The research firm announced that Austrians’ spending power will rise year on year in 2011 regardless of upcoming tax increases and less welfare spending.RegioData, which considered various statistical material such as firms’ turnover and family subsidy payments for its study, said it expected Austrians’ purchasing power to jump by 2.6 per cent next year compared to this year’s rate. It pointed out this improvement meant people will have an average 450 Euros more of disposable income to spend.The Austrian retail trade could achieve a turnover of up to 1.75 billion Euros from sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas this year, according to various market surveys.