Record sales likely for Xmas, Boxing Day

While many people head to the shops on Christmas Eve, thousands will return for Boxing Day sales. (AAP)

Australian shoppers are expected to spend $50 billion before Christmas Day and a further $2.36 billion on the Boxing Day sales.

Australians are on track to spending $50 billion before Christmas, but the shopping won't stop there with the country's peak retail body predicting a record Boxing Day spend of $2.36 billion.

While many people make a last-minute dash for presents and food on Christmas Eve on Sunday, thousands are expected to return less than 48 hours later for the start of the sales on Tuesday.

A 2.8 per cent increase from last year is forecast in pre-Christmas shopping across the nation with $20 billion expected to be spent on food, Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

"We believe we are well on track to getting $50 billion and maybe even a little bit more," he told reporters in Sydney on Sunday.

"What really surprised me about today is the number of people that are still out there buying their last Christmas purchases because we traditionally see this is a time where the focus is all around food."

NSW shoppers are leading the way with more than $16 million forecast to be spent before Christmas, followed by Victorians who are expected to spend close to $13 million.

The biggest increase has been seen in online shopping, which represents more than seven per cent of Australia's total retail turnover, compared to just under six per cent one year ago, Mr Zimmerman said.

Australians are expected to hit the shops in droves on Boxing Day with National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb saying shoppers were expected to spend $2.36 billion on Boxing Day, up three per cent on the 2016 figure of $2.28 billion.

"This is a much-needed revenue for retailers," she said in Brisbane on Sunday.

"We know that they spend the whole year planning this sale, it's absolutely the pinnacle of their retail calendar and they're very excited to greet their customers early on Tuesday morning."

Shoppers in NSW and Victoria are expected to spend $771m and $740m respectively on December 26, well above third-placed Queensland with its estimated $397m.

Ms Lamb said retailers in each of the states and territories could expect a boost in Boxing Day sales.

"This is definitely a record-breaking Boxing Day, we certainly haven't seen these figures for some time," she said.

"It's not as high as pre-GFC, but this is a much-needed increase for retailers and certainly this is an increase on last year's figures."

Ms Lamb said Australian shoppers had spent more than $48 billion in the lead-up to Christmas, with $20.3 billion of that spent in the past fortnight.

"Given that Christmas is on a Monday this year we know that people have left Christmas shopping as long as they possibly can ... but what we've seen in the last 12 days is a huge surge towards the shops," she told AAP on Saturday.

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