The retail turnover figures for November have been described by retailers as disappointing.

The ABS figures show retail trade fell 0.1 per cent in the lead in towards Christmas. This follows a relatively unchanged October 2012.

The largest contributor to the fall was household goods retailing (-0.9 per cent) followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.6 per cent) and department stores (-0.4 per cent).

According to Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman, the results puts emphasis on how much retailers need the Reserve Bank to lower the interest rates further and have the major banks pass on any additional rate cuts.

“The figures indicate that there remains a lack of consumer confidence due to tax hikes, increases in utility bills and private health insurance,” he said.

“There appears to be a lack of business certainty in the build-up to this year’s Federal election.

“What Australia needs is strong economic leadership in the light of these figures, which come on the back of a series of data showing a lack of confidence and positive economic data compounding across multiple areas of the economy. Interest rate cuts are needed, but so is economic leadership.”

The fall was partially offset by rises in other retailing (1 per cent). This confirms NAB’s recent online retail index results.

Cafes restaurants and takeaway food services (0.3 per cent) was also another top performer during the period. Food retailing remained flat but over the longer term it was the strongest performing industry, up 0.4 per cent in trend terms.

“The increase in both month-on-month and year-on-year growth in the cafes, restaurants and takeaways category correlates with the beginning of the Christmas party season,” Zimmerman said.

State-by-state the largest contributor to the fall was New South Wales (-0.2 per cent) followed by South Australia (-0.6 per cent), Western Australia (-0.3 per cent) and the Northern Territory (-0.9 per cent).

The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose was relatively unchanged in November 2012. This follows a rise of 0.1 per cent in October 2012 and a rise of 0.1 per cent in September 2012.