Despite the latest Retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showing a slight improvement, industry bodies are saying it’s still insufficient..

Released on Monday, figures revealed that Australian retail turnover rose 0.3 per cent in November 2010, seasonally adjusted, following a revised fall of 0.8 per cent last October

Margey Osmond, Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) CEO, has welcomed the results, but said it’s still not enough.

“While a 0.3 per cent uptick is welcomed, and certainly unexpected considering the economic climate, retailers are well aware that this jump looks like an anomaly, created by the woefully low figures in October,” she said in a statement.

The modest rebound comes as other retailing and departments stores recorded the largest rises in November of 0.8 per cent followed by cafes, restaurant and takeaway food services at 0.4 per cent.

According to Osmond, Christmas discounting and strong jobs numbers during the month balanced out the impact of the November interest rate increases.
Gary Black from the National Retailers Association (NRA) said the data reflects the “anaemic state” of the domestic retail sector.

“Whether they are online, ‘bricks and mortar’ or a combination of both, Australian retailers in 2010 suffered through one of the most difficult years in memory,” he said said.

“This difficulty was compounded by the Reserve Bank’s decision to increase interest rates on Melbourne Cup day, just before the vitally important Christmas trading period.”

Black also defended the Retailers Coalition GST campaign against the federal government as “crying poor” about the unfair tax loophole for off-shore traders, saying the unfair advantage that overseas retailers have on Australian businesses is doing a lot of damage.

“This ABS data shows the urgent need for the Australian Government to step in and level the playing field for local businesses,” he said.
“This is not about protecting big business, or trying to close out online retailers.  This tax loophole also discriminates against Australian-based online retailers, and hurts small, family-run businesses just as much as large chain stores.”

Based on an ANRA survey of 1000 Australians, it is unlikely that retailers will be recovering too soon with 36 per cent of those surveyed intend to cut spending this year, while 53 per cent planned to keep their shopping about the same as 2010 levels.

“Consumers have been telling us all year that they feel secure, confidence and jobs are high, but they are not intending to spend that cash, choosing instead to save it. It seems that trend is becoming entrenched and is unlikely to change at least in the short term,” Ormond said.