The fall in retail trade during May has ruined the glimmer of hope retailers felt after solid figures in April, according to the National Retailers Association (NRA).
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows turnover fell by 0.6 per cent in May after a 1.2 per cent rise the month before.
NRA executive director Gary Black says it’s been a tough time for the industry.
“All retailers know this has been a difficult 12 months and, notwithstanding a hopeful outcome in April, these figures show the disappointing results have continued,” Black says.
“While the food category showed good growth of 3.2 per cent, once you move away from essentials to discretionary spending the results are very flat. Sales of clothing, footwear and personal accessories declined by 2.61 per cent while sales in household goods and department store items showed almost no growth at all.”
He says it’s even more disappointing given figures have shown little growth since the global financial crisis.
“Retail employment was at an all-time high in November 2007. Since then, retailers have shed 60,000 full-time positions.
“While they have added around 50,000 part-time and casual positions, the total work hours for the sector have obviously fallen significantly.
“This loss of employment adds to the urgency around a fairer tax and customs regime and taking away the unfair advantage currently enjoyed by overseas-based on-line retailers.
“If the Australian Government won’t move to support retailers with a level playing field, jobs will continue to disappear from the Australian economy as retail spending goes overseas.”