The Australian Retailers' Association has predicted that retail sales will only rise by four per cent over Christmas 2000. This compares unfavourably with the 8.5 per cent increase during Christmas 1999.

Many major Australian retailers are reporting uncertain trading conditions in late 2000. Harvey Norman's executive chairman, Gerry Harvey, says that some franchisees are praying for warmer weather to drive sales.

Just Jeans' managing director, Howard McDonald, is more sanguine, saying that the retail chain's sales rose by four per cent in the four months to 18 November 2000. However, he urges caution in predicting Christmas sales figures.