Executives at upmarket department store David Jones are forecasting a flat Christmas trading period amid concerns over consumer sentiment.
Chief executive Paul Zahra said David Jones stores still are not seeing enough foot traffic to produce even modest sales growth.
"We've only just again started the Christmas trading period [so] it's a bit early-days for me to say," he said at the company's annual general meeting.
"We have planned for a flat result, given that we've got deflation of around 2-3 per cent.
We have to work hard to stay still, [that's] probably the best way to describe it." Mr Zahra said he was doing his best to bring customers back but ultimately it was not something he could control.
"I think the biggest item that keeps me awake at night is consumer sentiment," he said.
Despite official figures showing consumers are reluctant to spend, UK retailer Topshop had no trouble attracting customers to its store when it opened up earlier in the year.
Topshop is just a block away from David Jones in Sydney's CBD.
Given some of the success that more competitively priced stores like Topshop have experienced, Mr Zahra was asked if the board had considered giving up on the idea of being an upmarket retailer.
"We hold the premier position in the marketplace, and as a result we see the peaks and troughs of the economy," he said.
"With every trough there's a peak and we're looking forward to that peak to come.
"So, it'll come back.
Like every other economic cycle, there's an up and a down and we're using this time now to prepare for the future, which is why we released our future strategic direction plan in March this year." Savage leaving Meanwhile, chairman Bob Savage is leaving the company about two years before his term expires, and chaired the company's annual general meeting for the last time.
Mr Savage has spent his whole career working out how to improve department stores.
His retailing career began around 50 years ago in a department store in Wellington.
He has seen many highs and lows, but perhaps some of his most difficult years have been on the board of David Jones.
Journalists quizzed Mr Savage about the sexual harassment scandal that rocked the retailer several years ago and led to the departure of then chief executive Mark McInnes, but Mr Savage was reluctant to revisit the past.
He ended the news conference by opening up to journalists, saying his tenure at David Jones had been a labour of love.
"The chairman's role goes in peaks and troughs," he said.
"If you want to be a prominent company director or a chairman, you have to love the job and love the company and love the people.
"Because if you don't, the people who work in the company will understand pretty quickly that you're not really interested in them and that would never work." Mr Savage will officially step down as the chairman of David Jones at the end of December.