The ABS has released encouraging figures with retail turnover on the rise and a rebound for department stores. But escalating rental costs and high energy prices will continue to put a strain on retailers.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its Retail Trade figures, revealing that Australian retail turnover rose 0.6 percent in February 2018, seasonally adjusted. This is on the back of a 0.2 percent rise in January 2018. Year-on-year, it’s 3.01 percent total growth, marking a slightly delayed back-to-school and post-holiday spending period.
“The strongest retail category in February was Clothing, Footwear and Personal Accessories (4.85 percent) as Australians had a slow start to summer this year,” said Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the Australian Retailers Association.
All retail sector industries recorded monthly growth, with a 1.5 percent seasonally adjusted increase for department stores, which is encouraging given the current environment. The clothing category received a 6.58 percent increase year-on-year, which is the best growth it has seen since December 2016.
“February figures also show a 4.51 percent year-on-year growth in online retail, which is not surprising as we expect the online market to account for 15 percent of total retail sales in the next five years,” Zimmerman added.
The ARA believes that the positive figures indicate that consumer confidence has improved. Yet despite this, the ARA warns that rising prices and company tax costs will continue to hamper sustained growth. “Although this growth is the biggest year-on-year growth we have seen since July last year,” Zimmerman said, “retailers are still struggling with escalating rental prices and high energy costs.”