The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade figures show that sales in January have been strong, rising 1.2 per cent seasonally adjusted, compared with a fall of 0.9 per cent the previous month.
Department Stores performed the best with a 7.2 per cent rise, followed by clothing, footwear and other personal accessory retailing (2.9 per cent), other retailing (1.4 per cent), food retailing (1.3 per cent) and household goods retailing (0.6 per cent). The food industry did not do so well, with sales falling 3.1 per cent in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services. 
South Australia (3.7 per cent) recorded the strongest growth in sales in January, followed by Western Australia (2.6 per cent), Victoria (1.5 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (0.8 per cent), Queensland (0.7 per cent), the Northern Territory (0.6 per cent) and New South Wales (0.4 per cent). Tasmania was unchanged in January.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the ABS retail trade figures was disappointing after a 0.9 per cent fall in December sales and indicated a dismal post-Christmas sales season.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said retailers who offered post-Christmas sales were expecting more significant growth.
"When compared to January 2008, this year there was a three percent growth in retail sales. This is not something for retailers to celebrate considering year-on-year growth from January 2007 to January 2008 was about 6.3 per cent.
"The impact of the stimulus package artificially inflated the 2008-09 Christmas and post-Christmas sales results. In the 2009-10 holiday period, retailers are seeing a more accurate reflection of consumer trepidation after successive interest rate rises and without help from government hand outs.”
"The post-Christmas period begins on Boxing Day and goes through until mid-January and at this stage it appears retailers have fallen well short of projections of $6.77 billion (4.1 per cent growth). Early indications are pointing towards a growth more like 2.2 per cent or $6.66 billion," said Zimmerman.