Retailers closed out 2015 with strong sales growth

Australia’s retailers finished 2015 on a strong footing, with sales results coming in four per cent higher in December than for the same time the previous year, according to the latest retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The ABS Retail Trade figures show that Australian retail turnover was relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent) in December 2015, following a rise of 0.4 per cent in November 2015, seasonally adjusted.

In seasonally adjusted terms there were rises in food retailing (0.8 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.1 per cent) and department stores (0.1 per cent). Household goods retailing (-1.0 per cent), other retailing (-0.9 per cent) and cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.5 per cent) fell in December 2015.

The fall in household goods retailing was the largest of any industry in December. This fall follows large rises in recent months, which have contributed significantly to stronger rises in total retail turnover. Despite the fall in December, this industry maintains the strongest growth rate of any industry compared to this time last year, rising 6.3 per cent compared to December 2014.

The results were in line with the pre-Christmas trading forecasts released by the National Retail Association late last year, and show that retail continues to experience steady growth.

“We always said that is was going to be a ‘sensible’ Christmas, with modest spending growth compared with 2014, and that has turned out to be true,” NRA Industry Research and Data Analyst Cameron Meiklejohn said.

“However, this is a good result that gives retailers and their employees reason to be confident as we head into 2016.”

Retail Council CEO Anna McPhee said consumer activity throughout December was broadly in line with the Retail Council’s Christmas and summer clearance sale forecasts to deliver stronger growth than the same period in 2014, which is a good sign for the economy.

“Many categories delivered a solid performance in the year to December 2015 and are above long-term average annual growth, despite patchy month-on-month results across some retail categories in December,” she said.

Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says Australian retailers will be very pleased with the annual increase in shoppers’ spend in December.

“December is the biggest month in the retail calendar in terms of sales and this considerable boost finishes off a year of strong increases for the industry,” he said.

“We’re hopeful the trend of steady growth will continue throughout 2016, with many retailers well positioned to leverage off these improvements with new innovations across online, omnichannel, and bricks and mortar stores.”