Still below expectations.
The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail sales figures should serve as a warning to all sides of politics that parts of the retail sector are struggling, National Retail Association CEO, Dominique Lamb said. Sales rose slightly but were still below what was anticipated.
“Retail is the second biggest sector in the Australian economy, so when it goes through a challenging period there is a knock-on effect throughout the economy. While the retail community certainly doesn’t look to government for all the answers, it is during slow periods such as these that measures are required that assist small business,” Lamb said.
“But there is still more that can be done to help small business thrive in areas right across industrial relations and we hope to see policies ahead of the upcoming federal election that support small business.”
The December ABS results revealed that through the Christmas trade period, half of November and all of December, Australians spent $48.7 billion, compared to $47.5 billion in 2017.
According to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) the December trade figures delivered mixed messages for Christmas retail.
While media commentary will inevitably zoom in on the -0.38% drop in month-on-month figures, ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman said the year-on-year numbers, more accurately reflect the seasonality of retail trading for a more concise depiction of how stores are faring.
“The ARA and Roy Morgan predicted a 2.9% increase in pre-Christmas sales from November 9 to December 24, 2018, and the year-on-year figures are close to the estimated sales forecast,” he said.
While department stores recorded a 0.53% year-on-year jump, weakness in the electrical category, down 2.9% and recreational goods , down 4.81% were sobering.
“Although these figures are disappointing, it is important to note that there are a variety of factors that have contributed to these soft figures, including the decrease in consumer sentiment caused by rising household costs and low wage growth, which continues to plague the industry and overall economy.”