The largest retailer in Australia, Cole Myers, echoed the CEO of rival Woolworths yesterday (22 November) as it pinned its hopes on Christmas for delivering some substantial sales growth. The company has already posted a sales increase of 6-8% for the year to date, but if this figure is to be maintained for the H2, much will depend on the activities of yuletide consumers.

Dennis Eck, CEO of the group, appeared hesitant in noting that, "right now, the signals are mixed." Consumers, he believes, are "unsettled and less confident. With a good Christmas, we would endeavour to have our earnings go up in line with our sales through cost control and good sales," but it seems that, as yet, there are no signs of how robust sales will be. "Clearly the next two weeks will be absolutely vital," said Eck.

At the recent general shareholders meeting, Stan Wallis, company chairman, added another call for caution, reminding his audience of the various market aspects that could also influence sales. A weak Australian dollar is currently struggling against rising fuel prices, and "we're starting to see some movement there," warned Wallis.

The answer? Wallis reiterated that the supermarket company would continue to focus on cost control, maintaining the support of consumers and allowing the control of margins over the oncoming financial year.