Retail trade figures released late last week delivered yet another blow to Australia’s struggling department stores.
Australia’s department stores are the only sector to have seen a dint in sales in June.
The dismal outlook comes as the ABS records overall sales rising 0.4 per cent in June, with food retailing and clothing all marking growth in sales since May.
Department stores were the only industry to experience a fall in sales – losing 0.6 per cent.
“There were rises in five of the six industries this month, although overall the retail environment remains subdued” said Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys at the ABS.
The gloomy outlook comes after David Jones’ parent company last week wrote down the value of the department store by $437 million, citing
Just weeks earlier Myer layoff a handful of jobs across its stores and head office, citing unprecedented economic pressures and recessionary conditions.
The overall retail sector has for months been facing tough headwinds with slow consumer spending, recessionary conditions, the rise of e-commerce, global competition and stagnant wage growth.
The nation’s retail peak welcomed the small rise, saying it was a healthy change for the sector.
“For the past two months we’ve seen retail turnover rise by only 0.1 per cent,” Mrs Lamb said.
“The NRA welcome this rise in sales and are optimistic that these results signal a rejuvenation for retail in the remainder of 2019.”
Despite the overall good news, Mrs Lamb told Retailbiz on Tuesday that the result for department stores was a symptom of the times.
“We’ve known for some time that the market has been experiencing difficulty and retailers in that space didn’t reinvent themselves quickly. We are seeing movements in DJ’s and Myer to reconnect with consumers but the question is – will they be successful.
“That comes down to the same thing all other retailers are grappling with: what is the customer experience, their service, their engagement with technology.”
Provided they get these things right, the end is not in sight for retailers, Mrs Lamb says.
“I think there’s a place for them but will they be the same as they are now? No. Because this market is disruptive and evolving.”