July retail figures presented by the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed annual growth of 2.36 per cent.
The growth is described as “an unexpected sobering economic snapshot” by the Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman.
It is noted however that month-on-month figures show a fall in July of 0.13 per cent after a 0.4 per cent rise in June.
“… We’re disappointed and surprised by these figures,” Mr Zimmerman said.
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“With the ‘election effect’ well and truly over, and the Morrison government’s $1,080 tax rebates beginning to flow to consumers via tax refunds in July – coupled with two months of modest recovery in retail spending ahead of these numbers.”
Retail recession rejected
Despite Mr Zimmerman saying that retail trade was “patchy” for several months, and that the retail industry were “doing it tough” he rejected suggestions of a so-called “retail recession”.
“Two quarters of negative growth equals one recession, and one moth of anaemic retail trade doesn’t meet the definition by any stretch,” he said.
“The best way to stave off a recession is to ensure economic activity continues to grow.”
A wakeup call
Mr Zimmerman suggests that if people are worried, then the best thing to do is to get out and spend money on products and services in the retail business.
“… and in the case of our industry, that means getting consumers to have the confidence to go out for dinner, to buy that new furniture piece for the house, or to buy the new suit or dress they’ve been window shopping for a while,” he explained.
Mr Zimmerman remains hopeful however that by the time August figures are presented that “just about everyone will have their tax refunds”.
“… so I am still inclined to think the impact of all that extra money might yet remain to be seen.”