September Retail Trade Figures

With a 1.44% total year-on-year growth, well below the seasonally adjusted long-term average, September’s retail trade figures isn’t good news as we head into Christmas.

Australian retailers have now experienced three consecutive months of zero or negative growth, highlighting the current challenging environment and weak consumer confidence.

The ABS today reported confronting result, with 0.0 percent growth in September (seasonally adjusted terms), following falls of 0.5 percent in August and 0.3 percent in July.

The ABS reported drops in a number of categories, with household goods the category hit hardest in September (-0.5%) joined by department stores as well (-0.1%).

These were offset by increases in food retailing (0.1%).  Other retailing and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing were relatively unchanged in trend terms.

All states have again received a drop in year-on-year growth. Although grim, New South Wales (2.34%), Tasmania (2.33%), Victoria (2.29%) and South Australia (2.16%) showed the strongest year-on-year growth of the states. While both the Australian Capital Territory (1.17%) and Queensland (0.23%) remained quite low, Western Australia (-1.19%) and the Northern Territory (-1.46%) received negative figures, a worrying outlook for the months ahead.

ARA (Australian Retail Association) executive director Russell Zimmerman says these figures are dismal this close to the biggest trading period of the year pointing towards low disposable income. “If Australians aren’t feeling wealthy they will spend less, and this weakness is an issue across the board.”

Zimmerman says the softness in Sydney house prices are starting to impact consumer spend on household goods with hardware and building (-4.22%), electrical goods retailing (-1.12%), and furniture (2.98%) all showing a big drop in year-on-year growth.

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