One of the leading retail bodies, the Australian Retailers Association, has publically slammed economic forecasters, who predicted that the economy was in a recession, claiming they are responsible for frightening consumers into financial hibernation.

On the back of the recent news that Australia has narrowly avoided a recession with a 0.4 per cent rise in GDP, ARA executive director, Richard Evans, has come out and attacked economic commentators for not paying close attention to retail trends.

“The doom and gloom rhetoric being bandied around by our economic commentators is doing a great job of dampening consumer confidence,” he said.

“Retailers are working hard to overcome this negative rhetoric and stimulate consumer spend with $10.6 billion in stocktake sales expected over June which is a 2.7 per cent growth on last year’s $10.3 billion spend.”

Evans commented that these economists have been well and truly proven wrong.

“These are the same economists who didn’t predict the economic downturn in the first place. These are the economists who failed to listen when retailers detected a drop in consumer spend in late 2007.  Instead, interest rates were raised in an attempt to rein in consumer spending that was already drying up,” he said.

“At the moment there is a lot of good economic news and retailers are predicting improved growth from the September quarter.”

Evans claimed that retail trends are the best indicator of the future of the economy.

“Retailing is the barometer of the economy with the rest of the supply chain lagging three to six months behind. The retail sector’s economic predictions have been accurate throughout this downturn and it’s time our economists, who are doing a great job of frightening consumers into financial hibernation, listened to the retail experience,” he said.

“Retailers will wait to hear this new dialogue of leadership. When it comes, consumer confidence will return and funds will flow from the retail hub through supply channels leading economic recovery.”