ABS data highlights challenges facing retailers

06 November, 2017 by Andy Young

The latest Retail Trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have shown that Australia’s retail turnover was unchanged at 0.0 per cent in September 2017, seasonally adjusted.

This follows a fall of 0.5 per cent in August 2017 and a fall on 0.3 per cent in July. The ABS figures showed that in seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in food retailing (0.6 per cent), department stores (2.1 per cent), and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.3 per cent). There were falls in other retailing (-1.7 per cent), household goods retailing (-0.4 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.7 per cent) in September 2017.

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The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover was relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent) in September 2017 and relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent) in August 2017. Compared to September 2016 the trend estimate rose 2.0 per cent.

Online retail turnover contributed 4.4 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms.

According to the National Retail Association (NRA), this third consecutive month of zero or negative growth highlights the very challenging environment currently facing Australian retailers.

“These results demonstrate the importance of every measure that gives business any opportunity to remain competitive – such as gradually reducing weekend penalty rates to more sensible levels,” said NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb.

“It also should give Governments reason to pause and consider the impacts of their decisions every time they roll out policy that will add to cost or red tape for retail business owners.”

On a state-by-state basis, Victoria (-0.1 per cent), Western Australia (-0.3 per cent), South Australia (-0.1 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-0.2 per cent), the Northern Territory (-0.2 per cent), and Tasmania (-0.1 per cent) all experienced changes.  New South Wales rose (0.1 per cent) and Queensland was relatively unchanged.

Lamb added that the results showed the importance of the upcoming Christmas and Boxing Day shopping period.

“The coming months will be make or break for many retailers.  They will be looking for a strong Christmas result to carry them through the New Year,” she said.