The Australian Bureau of statistics has just released the retail sales figures for the month of January 2009 and the results have proven to be quite surprising.

The seasonally adjusted estimate for the month increased by 0.2 per cent, after an impressive increase of 3.8 per cent in December 2008. The December increase represented the largest monthly seasonally adjusted percentage increase since the introduction of the GST in August 2000.

Over January the industries that performed the best were: Cafes, restaurants and takeaway services with a growth of 2.3 per cent, followed by food retailing with a 1.5 per cent increase, and clothing and soft goods with an increase of 0.8 per cent.

The categories that didn’t fare as well where department stores and household goods retailing which dropped 0.5 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.

Overall in terms of individual state performances New South Wales (1.9 %), Australian Capital Territory (1.5 %), Western Australia (1.4 %) and South Australia (0.1 %) all demonstrated positive growth, where sadly Victorian (-1.8 %) and Tasmanian (-2.9 %) sales fell over the period. Queensland had no change.

This positive growth for the retail sector is great news for the entire retail industry, especially when most experts were predicting a significant loss for January after the positive Christmas sales period.

This demonstrates that consumers are still willing to spend up in the current economic conditions, and overall the news must instil confidence in the retailers by rewarding their hard work and effort to remain financially viable in troubling times.