The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) this week released some positive figures for the Australian retail industry as retailers move into winter.
The figures show a 3.82 per cent total growth year-on-year for the industry in May, a result that, according to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), was much better than expected.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says the May retail-trade figures offer retailers a positive outlook heading into winter.
“Retail figures have improved from April across the board with the cold winter snap driving consumers indoors,” Mr Zimmerman said.
“Clothing, footwear and personal-accessories figures have levelled out in May, showing a 3.76 per cent increase year-on-year.”
The figures released by the ABS show household goods (5.11 per cent), electrical (5.8 per cent) and furniture (8.62 per cent) have seen the strongest year-on-year growth.
All states and territories are showing steady growth with the ACT leading the way (5.68 per cent), followed by Victoria (5.19 per cent), South Australia (4.9 per cent), Tasmania (4.53 per cent), NSW (3.93 per cent), Queensland (3.07 per cent), Western Australia (0.98 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.62 per cent).
The late arrival of cold weather this winter may have a positive effect on retail sales, Mr Zimmerman says, but he also has concerns that the discounting happening nationally at present would affect some retailers getting the sales volumes needed.
“Although liquor has slowed down considerably as we move away from Easter, supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food remain strong,” he said.
“As we enter the colder months, we will see retail growth remain strong, giving retailers breathing room in the tough trading environment.
“We look forward to seeing consumers take advantage of the end-of-financial-year sales in June giving retailers another boost in sales.”
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said that while retail was experiencing a quiet period, the industry remains in steady shape and should continue to pick up following the introduction of reduced Sunday Penalty Rates.
“The NRA is confident that the changes in penalty rates will result in stronger turnover results for retail in the coming months,” she said.
Also this week, the Reserve Bank of Australia left interest rates on hold at an historic low of 1.5 per cent. Ms Lamb says the decision is a wise one that is welcomed by the retail industry.
“Maintaining low interest rates over time will steadily see consumer confidence return to the sector and we do expect the market to pick up between now and Christmas,” she said.