By Aimee Chanthadavong

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures show that retail sales increased 0.3 per cent in August, seasonally adjusted, compared with an increase of 0.7 per cent the previous month.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.5 per cent) recorded the largest increase in August after a strong result in July followed by other retailing (1.4 per cent), household goods retailing (0.5 per cent) and department stores (0.6 per cent).

Meanwhile, sales in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-1.5 per cent) and food retailing (-0.3 per cent) recorded a fall in sales.

Gary Black, National Retailers Association (NRA) executive director, told Retailbiz that when the ABS includes food retailing it can have a significant impact on the way mainstream retail trade data is reported.

“The retail trade data is an indicator of consumer spending but if you’re a mainstream retailer the inclusion of takeaway food services can distort the performance of the sector,” Black said.

“And what’s happened in July and August where remarkably it has record a 15 per cent increase over last year so for that sector is has performed exceptionally strongly and those commentators who don’t extract then they’re not accurately depicting the predicament of mainstream retailers.”

New South Wales (0.7 per cent), Western Australia (1.1 per cent) and Australian Capital Territory (0.7 per cent) recorded the largest seasonally adjusted increases in August, followed by South Australia (0.1 per cent) and Tasmania (0.2 per cent). Sales in Victoria (-0.2 per cent), Queensland (-0.1 per cent) and Northern Territory (-0.5 per cent) decreased in August.