RetailBiz Round Up for Monday 3 February 2014 – with Patrick Avenell
Today's ASX results are here

Business confidence is up and the outlook for sales activity is strong, according to the latest Business Expectations Survey from Dun & Bradstreet. As we move out of the silly season and into the year proper, D&B reports that 47 per cent of businesses are expecting increased trading throughout the first half of calendar 2014, representing the highest level of positivity since the end of 2003.

“The steep lift in sales expectations is a confident statement from the business sector, which is viewing this year with healthy levels of optimism,” said D&B CEO Gareth Jones. “These recent findings consolidate a broad pick-up in the business outlook that was first observed in the final quarter of last year with more positive expectations for sales, profits, employment and investment.”

Retail optimism is particularly strong, with the percentage of respondents expecting increased sales growing from just under 20 per cent to just under 50 per cent over the past 12 months.

In addition to favourable fluctuations in the exchange rate, low interest rates is a leading cause of optimism in the industry.

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Bigcommerce, an online retail platform currently being used by over 50,000 stores, has revealed which industries are on-trend in 2014.

In an incredibly long infographic that we have dutifully reproduced below, the study finds that jewellery and accessories is flying off e-shelves, cars are driving away at high speed and toys, sporting goods and electronics are all growing steadily.

There are casualties, however, and “Books, music, and movies are down; with the dominance of iTunes, Netflix and Amazon, stores in this category actually dropped 14 per cent,” a spokesperson said.

The ACCC is currently looking into Australia Post’s plan to raise the cost of an ordinary stamp from 60 cents to 70 cents (16.66 per cent). The monopoly franchisor wants to implement this increased expense from 31 March 2014.

Even with this increase, Australia Post envisions that its letter delivery service will lose almost $250 million during the 2015 financial year. It has been 3.5 years since the last price increase, from 55 cents to 60 cents (11 per cent).

“The ACCC’s role is to assess Australia Post's proposed price increases, taking into account how efficient Australia Post is in managing its costs and whether the forecast declines in mail volumes are reasonable,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims.

“In reaching its view, the ACCC considers information provided by Australia Post and views of industry stakeholders and consumers.”

Are you interested in Brisbane style? If so, you’ll love the upcoming documentary being produced by QueensPlaza Shopping Centre titled Uncovering the Brisbane Look. Those expressing guffawed scepticism are reminded that Forever 21 has chosen Brisbane for its beachhead store, as the QueensPlaza team stressed in this description of the project:

“It’s local in flavour but national in significance as it combines the passion, creativity and nous of Brisbane’s thriving fashion industry, which is further highlighted by the fact that Forever 21 has chosen Brisbane as their entry point for their first Aussie store.

“In partnership with the Mercedes Benz Brisbane Fashion Festival, QueensPlaza’s documentary features contributions from many fashion and art industry heavyweights such as Sass and Bide, Zimmermann, Easton Pearson, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and QUT Vice Chancellor Suzi Vaughan among others.”

Brisbane style at QueensPlaza Shopping Centre.

Country Road has reported a 27.4 per cent increase in total sales for the six months to the end of 2013. The fashion retailer with operations in Australasia and South Africa recorded $422 million in sales, compared to $331 million for the previous corresponding half-year. This result is only up 6.6 per cent on a like-for-like basis, however, due to acquisitions. Total profit after tax during this period was $38 million.

JB Hi-Fi has reported $1.94 billion in total sales for the six months to 31 December 2013 — a year-on-year increase of 6.8 per cent — and a 10 per cent increase in net profit after tax (NPAT), up from $82.1 million last year to $90.3 million this year. At the same time, the company revealed the Clive Anthonys retail brand has been finally retired. Click here to read the full story on these announcement

New South Wales liquor licensees have been the subject of major legal reform following several king hits in the Kings Cross area of East Sydney. The Shout has this Fact Sheet explaining who is affected and how

Last Friday we brought you the news that Officeworks was claiming an Australian first, retailing a 3D printer for $1,499. It turns out that a retailer in Sydney was already selling 3D printers, so a spokesperson has amended this claim. “Officeworks is the first major retail chain in Australia to sell 3D printers in select stores and online,” the company said (Officeworks’ emphasis).

Quote of the Day

“There's a fire in a bin out the back in the loading dock. It's caused a large amount of smoke. Staff have evacuated about 2,500 people."

-A New South Wales fire and rescue spokesperson discusses a fire today at Ikea’s Tempe store, as reported on Fairfax websites.

Image of the Day

As promised above, here is that infographic in all its glory!

Go Seahawks!