March 16, 2009

Australia’s stimulus spurs spending spree

Australian retailers said $3.9 billion in back-to-school bonus checks had begun to have an impact at store cash registers.

The Brisbane Courier-Mail reported Monday that Big W sales last Thursday were 33 percent higher than the same day a year ago.

Sales were up at Coles, Target and Kmart stores, as well, the newspaper said.

Stimulus checks amounting to $950 per child were sent to 1.2 million families, while an additional 1.5 million received $900 checks.

Woolworths Chief Executive Officer Michael Luscombe said that the sales increase was particularly noticeable in more value-conscious suburbs.

Big W., which is owned by Woolworths, sold 1,000 barbecue sets since Thursday, a jump from the average week when about 300 are sold, the newspaper said.

Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan was quick to call the stimulus measure a success. It's great to see families stocking up on the basics because these cash payments are vital in helping stimulate economic activity in the short-term, he said.