A very merry Christmas set for Australian retailers

THE festive season could be looking up for the nation's retailers.

Most industry players expected Christmas sales to be higher than last year.

However the survey of the industry by Deloitte, released on Wednesday, showed retailers expected growth would only be modest and none expected more than 5% growth on last year's sales.

Deloitte partner David White said despite flat consumer sentiment, the low interest rates and cheaper credit rates were boosting consumer spending and retailer confidence in the lead-up to Christmas.

But he also said weaker wages growth and an economic slow-down in China were seen as the biggest risks to retailers, showing a "solid Christmas period, but not a spectacular one".

"On a positive note, there appears to be genuine optimism about 2015," Mr White said.

"Compared to last year, there has been a 15% fall in the number of retailers concentrating on efficiency and cost control.

"Instead we are seeing a greater focus on organic growth, particularly through bricks and mortar stores and a greater investment in multi-channel offerings."

Almost half of survey respondents said they expected to grow their margins over the festive season, and 51% expected some 10% growth in online-specific sales.