Executive director of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), Russell Zimmerman has described the September retail trade figures as ‘alarming’.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in seasonally adjusted terms retail turnover remained unchanged at 0.0 per cent in September, following a fall of 0.5 per cent in August and 0.3 per cent in July.
Zimmerman said that with Christmas not too far away “these figures are in all honesty alarming” and show an obvious weakness in consumer confidence.
“If Australians aren’t feeling wealthy they will spend less, and this weakness is an issue across the board,” he said.
In seasonally adjusted terms, household goods retailing fell by 0.4 per cent, while clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing lowered 0.7 per cent.
There were rises in food retailing (0.6 per cent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.3 per cent), and department stores, which saw a 2.1 per cent increase.
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb has also voiced concern over the numbers, saying the results show just how important the upcoming Christmas and Boxing Day shopping period is.
“The coming months will be make or break for many retailers,” she said. “They will be looking for a strong Christmas result to carry them through the new year.”
In seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in New South Wales (0.2 per cent), Queensland (0.3 per cent), South Australia (0.7 per cent), Tasmania (0.6 per cent), and the Australian Capital Territory (0.1 per cent). There were falls in Western Australia (1.3 per cent), and the Northern Territory (1.7 per cent), while Victoria was relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent).
Lamb said the figures demonstrate the difficult circumstances retailers are facing, and highlight the need for policies that support business.
“These results demonstrate the importance of every measure that gives business any opportunity to remain competitive, such as gradually reducing weekend penalty rates to more sensible levels.
“It should also give governments reason to pause and consider the impacts of their decisions every time they roll out policy that will add to cost or red tape for retail business owners.”
Here’s hoping trade picks up as we make our way into what should be the busiest time of year.
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