Retail sales appear to be on the up as we head into the Christmas season, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reporting that retail spending saw a 2.84 per cent growth (year-on-year) in August 2016.

The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman says low-to-negative growth in the supermarket (2.71 per cent year-on-year) and department store (-2.39 per cent year-on-year) categories has brought the overall growth rate down.

“With supermarkets accounting for nearly 50 per cent of all retail sales, the soft increase in the category contributes significantly to the low overall growth of the retail sector,” he says.

Unlike the supermarkets, the takeaway food services category is a notably strong area of growth (11.43 per cent year-on-year), reflecting the formidable expansion of fast food retailers across the country.

The statistics also show that retailers in the clothing, footwear and personal accessories category are reporting increased sales (6.85 per cent year-on-year) with hope that this will continue into the warmer months, and household goods retailing is up 1.64 per cent year-on-year.

Tasmania, South Australia and the ACT are leading the state-based categories with year-on-year growth of 4.26 per cent, 4.62 per cent and 6.89 per cent respectively.

“The figures reported by the ABS also highlight a number of trends in regards to state specific retail trade and varying State economic performances,” explains Zimmerman.

“What the figures show is the need for continued growth-focused and flexibility-based economic outcomes. We need a real economic, tax and jobs reform package to drive the economy and retail growth.”