Gerry Harvey, founder of Australian retail giant Harvey Norman, described the current retail conditions as the worst in 50 years even if the sector is expecting good Christmas sales. However, after the yearend holidays, the retail sector is anticipating worst times ahead.
"You've seen more retailers go out of business in the last two years than you have seen in the history of Australia and there are more retailers currently under pressure," The Australian quoted Mr Harvey.
""There are a lot of businesses hanging on for Christmas and expecting Christmas sales to be good . . . but they have this gut feeling that the first half of next year is going to be extremely difficult," he added.
Mr Harvey said he expects December sales in 2012 to be better than 2011 but conceded that the cash registers will depend a lot on good weather for electrical, furniture and bedding stores to benefit fully from Christmas sales.
He said hot weather would likely result in higher air conditioning units sales. Besides good weather, Harvey Norman is counting on Santa Claus to help bring back shoppers to brick and mortar stores as more Australian shoppers shift to purchasing online.
One indicator of the changing consumer behavior was Click Frenzy's 8.7 million views among participating retailers that at the start of the 24-hour sales, the Web site of Click Frenzy crashed due to the large number of online shoppers.
Due to Harvey Norman's multibillion-dollar property portfolio, Mr Harvey predicted that if Australia's retail industry would hit bottom in the coming months, the last man standing would likely by Harvey Norman.