Australian retail turnover was relatively unchanged in February 2016 following a rise of 0.3 per cent in January 2016, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade figures.
In seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in household goods retailing (0.4 per cent), department stores (0.4 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.1 per cent). Food retailing was relatively unchanged, but there were falls in cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2 per cent) and other retailing (0.1 per cent).
National Retail Association industry research and data analyst Cameron Meiklejohn said while at first glance the February ABS results were flat, the year-on-year average growth results showed the retail sector was heading in the right direction.
“There’s no doubt retailers continue to face structural challenges, particularly around workplace relations and excessive penalty rates on Sundays and public holidays,” he said.
“However, the industry has been on a steady upward trajectory for almost three years now, and things are continuing to head in the right direction.”
Retail Council CEO Anna McPhee said as the economy increasingly looks to domestic drivers of growth and that the trade result is a good sign for retail activity to continue to build momentum and contribute to growth in the year ahead.
“Many categories are growing at a faster annual pace than the same time last year, which is a positive indicator that the sector is on a path to build on 2015’s performance,” she said.
“With low petrol prices and interest rates remaining at record lows, there is an opportunity for retailers who focus on their customers.”
Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said the muted growth figure is a reflection of Australia’s economic conditions and consumer uncertainty.
“We anticipate 2016 will be a year of mixed fortunes, with uncertain economic conditions, an election on the horizon and an unpredictable Australian dollar all contributing to the current landscape,” he said.