More results indicating retail trade is improving has been released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The latest ABS retail trade figures show that retail turnover rose 1 per cent in June 2012, seasonally adjusted, following a rise of 0.8 per cent in May 2012. Meanwhile, the year-on-year figure to June 2012 sits at 5.4 per cent.

This is the biggest jump in annual growth rate since the 2009 stimulus packages where averages in year-on-year figures in recent years have sat around 2 per cent.

Margy Osmond, Australian National Retailers Associations (ANRA) CEO, said the June results are a welcome bounce back, which retailers hope is more to do with shoppers returning than just the bad weather driving people indoors.

“The sales, a fall in interest rates, Federal Budget cash filtering through to bank accounts and stability in Europe sent Australians to the shops in June, creating long overdue positive signs in the sector, and we couldn’t be more pleased to see it.

“Retailers pulled out all the stops in June, the department stores delivered their big half yearly clearances and toy retailers brought their sales forward slightly to boost the end of the month.

“The proof was in the pudding with an impressive 3.4 per cent jump in department stores sales (seasonally adjusted) and clothing, footwear and accessory retailing also improved 1.8 per cent. This is the best number for department stores for more than 12 months, and the best result for clothing in 2012.

“Food retailing continues to lead the charge up 0.9 per cent and cafes, restaurants and takeaways up 1.0 per cent.

“The only sector to drop was household goods retailing, down 0.2%, which is disappointing, but indicates that the priority for families remains in small treats – café lunches, a new top, replace the toaster, but no real commitment to buy larger goods – fridge, TV or sofa.”

However, Gary Black, National Retail Association (NRA) executive director, highlighted that domestic retailers still continue to face difficult conditions due to the unfair trading advantage available to overseas-based retailers, who can sell goods worth up to $1000 into the Australian market without paying GST or import and customs charges.

“Retail provides the bulk of jobs to low-skilled workers, and also serves as a means of supporting students and helping them gain work experience.
“If the Federal Government wanted to boost further the job prospects of these groups of people, they could move to close the tax loophole which disadvantages local businesses," he said.

“We might then be able to see further good retail figures such as those we’ve seen today, and perhaps a longer-term recovery in the retail sector as a whole.”