The ABS retail sales figures for July have shown an increase of 4.2 per cent, following growth of 4.9 per cent in June.
The increase boosted Australian retail sales turnover for July to $24.3 billion. However, month on month, retail sales fell 0.1 per cent in July compared with June.
Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the month-on-month decline fails to tell the whole story, with the figure reflective of annual mid-year sales activity that has typically all but wrapped up by July.
“Year-on-year figures provide the most accurate measure of the sector’s performance and are the most used figures by retail businesses in their own reporting,” he said.
“Annual retail sales growth has continued its solid upwards trajectory, a fantastic result for the Australian economy, which has been plagued by suggestions in the media of a possible downturn.”
Year-on-year retail growth by category (July 2014 to July 2015, seasonally adjusted)
Food (2.8 per cent), household goods (8.5 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessories (8.8 per cent), department stores (1.5 per cent), other retailing (2.5 per cent), and cafés, restaurants and takeaway food (four per cent).
By state and territory
NSW (5.3 per cent), Victoria (4.6 per cent), Queensland (3.2 per cent), SA (4.4 per cent), WA (2.9 per cent), Tasmania (2.3 per cent), NT (2.2 per cent) and the ACT (4.9 per cent).
According to the National Retail Association, the latest figures show the need for urgent economic reforms and to boost productivity, with CEO Trevor Evans saying that the figures show Australia is still growing, but not as strongly as it could be.
“This clearly points to the need for urgent reform across the economy – in taxation, in government spending, workplace relations and in productivity measures,” he said.
“We can no longer sit on our hands and just hope for a continuation of the strong economic performance that Australians have become used to in recent decades.
“On behalf of retailers – a major employment sector in the economy – we call on the federal and state governments to redouble their efforts to boost productivity and to create the conditions that will allow businesses to thrive and employment to flourish.
“Just as importantly, we urge the Federal Opposition and Senate crossbenchers to step out of the way of much-needed reforms to the federal budget, to workplace laws and to taxation measures.”
While monthly retail sales for bricks and mortar retail fell 0.1 per cent in July, online sales in Australia increased 3.4 per cent in the same period, according to data from payments platform eWAY.
eWAY has reported that while online sales skyrocketed in June (21.7 per cent), online transaction volumes have grown at a steady pace. In July, online sales increased by 3.4 per cent, followed by three per cent in August.
eWAY’s founder and CEO Matt Bullock said Australia’s reliance on using bricks and mortar retail figures to measure economic performance, and ignoring online volumes, showed economists’ failure to register the growing shift to online retail.
“It’s time to look at online retail sales combined with bricks and mortar when considering the impact of Australia’s retail industry on the broader economy,” he said.
“There’s a rapidly increasing number of businesses starting to sell goods and services through online channels – it’s not just fashion and electronics stores anymore. The sharing economy is another consumer spending area we’re yet to fully understand the impact of.”