Australian retail turnover was unchanged in March in seasonally adjusted terms, following a 0.6 per cent rise in February 2018.
However, online retail rose 3.7 per cent from a year ago, contributing 5.1 per cent to total retail turnover, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Food was the only industry to record a rise with all other industries taking a fall. Household goods dipped 0.3 per cent and department stores went down 0.5 per cent. In seasonally adjusted terms, there were declines in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania while Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory South Australia and the Northern Territory all rose.
National Retail Association CEO, Dominique Lamb said the ABS figures demonstrated the modest start to 2018 that retail is experiencing.
“The March figures represent a stall in retail sales with all industries recording a drop in turnover other than food retailing. At a state level the news was also fairly disappointing with half the states and territories recording declining sales. This is very sobering news for retailers across the country,” she said.
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director, Russell Zimmerman said although the March figures are in line with expected year-on-year retail growth, the ARA would like to see a much stronger growth for retailers already struggling in an uncertain market.
“Although slightly stronger than February’s retail trade, the growth relies highly on food retailing. We’ve seen the majority of retail categories take a step back in year-on-year growth across the industry.
“With Easter trade being early, we would have hoped to see strong growth in department stores and clothing, footwear and personal accessories instead we have lost ground in these categories at a time when they should be thriving. We are hoping to see localised growth across most retail categories come July, with the commencement of GST collection for overseas goods,” he said.
This story was originally published by Appliance Retailer.