Retail’s small spending boost in May

Retail sales languished in May, but franchise takeaway orders surged according to the latest data from the Australia Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The latest retail sales data showed an increase of 0.1 per cent in May, seasonally adjusted. This follows a fall of 0.1 per cent in April.

There were mixed results in May, with rises in cafes, restaurant and takeaway food services (0.7 per cent), household goods retailing (0.5 per cent) and other retailing (0.6 per cent). These rises were offset by falls in department stores (-0.4 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.2 per cent) and food retailing (-0.3 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms and by state and territory, there were rises in Victoria (0.6 per cent), South Australia (0.5 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (0.7 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.5 per cent).

There were falls in Queensland (-0.3 per cent), New South Wales (-0.1 per cent), Western Australia (-0.2 per cent) and Tasmania (-0.4 per cent) in seasonally adjusted terms.

Executive Director of the Australian Retailers’ Association, Russell Zimmerman, said the numbers supported the ARA’s contention that the recent federal election had temporarily suppressed consumer

“We know elections slow retail sales, and it seems people are a bit more confident now the federal election is over. These figures shine a small post-election ray of sunshine across the retail sector,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Mr Zimmerman noted almost 60 per cent of May was still covered by the election campaign, and that the impact of the election on consumer retail spending would not wash through until the June figures come through.

He also noted the protracted decline in retail sales figures for the Northern Territory as a cause for particular concern, and strongly urged the Territory government to undertake all measures within its power to stimulate consumer confidence and retail activity in the top end.

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