After the bumper retail sales of June and July and the following three months of slow trading, retailers are probably asking themselves if the coming 12 months will be just as tumultuous.
It seems likely that the trend towards consolidating sales with online initiatives will continue. Tandy is already offering products from its e-tailing site (tandy.com.au) and will offer an inventory of more than 30,000 items. Retailing giant Harvey Norman will beef up its overseas operations with the opening of its first European store in Slovenia next year and further expansion in the Asian market.
Despite the number of dot-coms that have fallen by the wayside in the past few months - headlines have tended to read more like a births, deaths and marriages column than news stories - Australian online businesses are still growing. Average growth rates for the top 10 Australian shopping sites last month were 55 per cent and the future of e-tailing looks "extremely encouraging - particularly with the increasing push online by majors such as Coles Myer and David Jones," according to Ian Lowe, managing director of online analyst Red Sheriff. The coming 12 months could also see the provision of broadband services as a retail product. Netcomm is looking at providing broadband to retailers to showcase its digital subscriber line services, which will be sold by retailers in the same way mobile phones and access plans are purchased.
Next year also looks set to be the year of the gaming console. Sony's much-awaited PlayStation 2 has sold strongly in retail stores, but the expected sell out has not eventuated. Perhaps consumers are waiting for Microsoft's X-box, which is due on the market in the second half of next year, or Nintendo's Cube.
Whichever console wins the retail sales race, one thing is certain - the new offering will mean a host of new software titles hitting the shelves.