The latest 0.7 per cent growth in retail sales for August is a very healthy result, said Margy Osmond, CEO for the Australian National Retailers Association.

This was despite consumers being hit with an interest rate rise at the beginning of the month and a volatile period on the stock market, she added.

Australian households spent around $19.5 billion in August, according to the latest retail figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Osmond said the growth followed two strong consecutive gains in June and July with all states returning increases.

There was however, a decline of 4.2 per cent in department store sales following a 5.9 per cent gain in the previous month.

Osmond said this may have been a result of a lull following the July sales.

“Food sales were stronger in August than non-food sales, which could be due to interest rate pressure with shoppers limiting expenditure on big-ticket items.”

She said consumers are yet to feel the effects of the government’s recent amendments to the Trade Practices Act, which are likely to cause uncertainty in the retail sector and reduce discounting.

“As we are heading into the peak retail trading period around Christmas, shoppers may be disappointed by a reduction in traditional discounting,” Osmond noted.