The Australian Retailers Association expects a last minute rush will contribute to a 4 per cent rise in Christmas spending compared with 2011.
The association's executive director, Russell Zimmerman, says there seems to be more shopping activity than last Christmas, but it is still well down on the growth seen in previous years.
"The trading that I'm hearing is probably a little bit more positive than last year, but certainly not back to the halcyon days of the 6.5 per cent, 7 per cent year-on-year [growth], and I don't think we're going to see that for a long time yet," he said.
Mr Zimmerman says spending has already been fairly robust this festive season and it will continue to increase steadily until Christmas Eve.
"You've got to remember that a lot of people leave their Christmas shopping right til the death knock, and you've got that Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Christmas," he observed.
"There's still a lot of trading time, and retailers will pick up a lot between now and Christmas Eve."