The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) says a further interest rate cut before the end of the year will ensure retailers do not suffer from slow sales over the Christmas period, with year on year Retail Trade growth for September 2015 coming in at 3.6 percent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

This figure is less than the 4.6 percent year on year growth of August, with September sales totaling $24.5 billion. Russell Zimmerman, ARA Executive Director, said the growth is less than the sector had hoped for in the run up to crucial Christmas trade.

Year on year figures provide the most accurate measure of the sector’s performance and are the figures used by most retail businesses in their own reporting. September 2015 sales rose 0.4 percent over August 2015.

“To ensure the resilience of Christmas spending, the ARA would have hoped to see sales growth of closer to five percent, especially off the back of the last seven months of above four percent growth,” said Mr Zimmerman.

“The ARA was disappointed in the RBA’s decision to leave the cash rate on hold yesterday, and this result is further proof of the need to reduce interest rates in December to allow retailers to benefit from the increased consumer confidence and discretionary dollars an interest rate cut will provide.

“While we don’t expect to see Christmas sales dip below the $45.2 billion of last year, our early prediction is that Christmas revenue growth will be around the four percent increase of 2014.”

The ARA’s Christmas spending prediction figures will be available late next week.

Category-wise, household goods, and clothing, footwear and personal accessories continued their trend of strong growth with 6.2 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively.

The growth in household goods can be attributed to the strength of the housing market in September and television renovations shows such as The Block, while robust clothing, footwear, and personal accessories have been driven by the onset of warmer spring weather.

State by state, Victoria saw the highest growth, coming in at 4.8 percent year on year.

“While the September results are not dire for the retail sector, the one percent fall in growth from August levels indicates that some change is required to boost consumers’ ability to spend, and the ARA would like to see that change via a December reduction in interest rates,” said Mr Zimmerman.

YEAR ON YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (September 2014 to September 2015 seasonally adjusted)

By category:

Food, 2.8 percent; household goods, 6.2 percent; clothing, footwear and personal accessories, 6.1 percent; department stores, three percent; other retailing, 3.1 percent; cafés, restaurants and takeaway foods, 2.2 percent.

By state:

NSW, 4.2 percent; Victoria, 4.4 percent; Queensland, 2.8 percent; South Australia, 3.9 percent; Western Australia, 2.2 percent; Tasmania, three percent; Northern Territory, 0.9 percent; and  Australian Capital Territory, two percent.