Official retail trade figures show that while it is a slow process the industry is inching back to recovery.

The January retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show a turnover of 0.4 per cent, seasonally adjusted, following a rise of 0.2 per cent the previous month.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said that any expectations for bumper post-Christmas sales trade were dampened by unenthused consumers and floods across many states

Food retailing and department stores boosted the overall turnover the recording a 2.5 per cent and 2.3 per cent increase, respectively.

However, turnover fell in household goods god retailing by 4.6 per cent, as well as clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing by 2.5 per cent.

 “Heavy discounting before Christmas also diluted the excitement and frenzy that traditionally surrounds post-Christmas sales, with retail trade across the board for January 2011 only 1.8 percent compared to the same time the year before. This signals yet another posting of year-on-year growth well below the rate of inflation,” Zimmerman said.

When compared state-by-state, the ABS noted that the Northern Territory had the highest total retail sales which rose 4.7 per cent, followed by Western Australia (2.7 per cent), South Australia (2.4 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (2.2 per cent), Queensland (0.3 per cent) and New South Wales (0.1 per cent).

 Turnover fell by 1 per cent in Victoria and Tasmania.

“Looking forward to February which is traditionally the toughest month for the sector, retailers aren’t expecting much change to consumer spend as over 50 percent of frugal consumers plan on spending less in 2011 and 30 per cent said they would spend less due to anticipated flood levies,” Zimmerman said.