Continued growth in Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) May 2015 retail trade figures released last week indicate the strength of Australian retail, according to the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), with year on year sales growing 4.6 per cent to $24.1 billion.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman attributes the growth to a more palatable Federal budget in May 2015, compared to 2014.

“Consumers appear to have been more confident with the Government’s more conservative budget, and that has played out in the pleasing boost to May 2015 retail trade figures,” he says.

“In addition to the more appealing spending conditions, many states have seen an earlier winter in 2015, driving more shoppers into stores for winter essentials such as heating appliances and winter fashions.”

Zimmerman’s observations are backed up by the annual growth of household goods retailing at 9.5 per cent, and clothing, personal accessory and footwear retailing, up 8.8 per cent.

“It’s important for retailers to be aware of the annual growth of their industry as opposed to monthly growth, as this is the figure most retail businesses use in their own reporting. Year on year figures provide the most accurate measure of the sector’s performance.”

National Retail Association CEO Trevor Evans expects to see the surge in spending in the latter part of May carried through into the June trade figures as well.

“Members have also told us that they had a strong sale period in the early part of May, driven by Mother’s Day gift spending.

“And May also saw the Reserve Bank cut the cash rate for a second time this year, which has also helped boost confidence for consumers and households.

“Taken together, these factors have produced a very welcome continuation of the modest but steady growth in retail trade over the last 18 months.”

The ABS reported increases in food retailing (0.7 per cent), household goods retailing (0.9 per cent) and other retailing (0.3 per cent), in seasonally adjusted terms. These were offset by falls in department stores (-1.4 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.8 per cent) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.2 per cent).

New South Wales continues to be the strongest state, with growth of 0.7 per cent, seasonally adjusted. Queensland (0.2 per cent), Western Australia (0.2 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (0.9 per cent) and Tasmania (0.6 per cent) also grew during the Month. South Australia and the Northern Territory were unchanged, will turnover in Victoria declined by 0.1 per cent.

“While the continued growth is welcome, it’s clear that some retail categories are performing better than others, and some areas of the country still have some catching up to do,” Evans says.

“Nonetheless, we welcome the positive results and look forward to seeing them continue.”