April goes awry for Aussie retailers

THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) April retail trade figures showed a disappointing 2.62% seasonally adjusted total growth year-on-year. 

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, said higher petrol prices and declining house prices were partly to blame for a soft April, with consumers tightening their belts to meet their household budgets.

“April’s figures are somewhat poor for the industry, with either flat or declining turnover across several key categories,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Hardware and Building (5.33%) and Cafes and Restaurants (4.86%) led year-on-year turnover growth in April, while Department Stores (-3.74%) and Clothing (0.56%) returned to their well-documented struggles.

Mr Zimmerman said an unseasonably warm Autumn impeded winter apparel sales, with a later-than-usual break in the weather pressuring retailers to begin early discounting to keep the tills ringing.

“The continued slide in the Department Store category shows no sign of abating, especially with its heavy reliance on Clothing and Footwear, which are also experiencing continual problems,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“While Household Goods retailing, and Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food remain strong, overall growth has been weighed down by mixed results in Food retailing and Clothing and Department stores going backwards.”

Food Retailing grew by 3.45 percent year-on-year, led by Supermarkets (3.62%), however, Specialised Food (0.28%) was flat, reflecting an earlier-than-usual Easter.

Across the country, Victoria (4.73%), the Northern Territory (3.64%) and New South Wales (3.55%) showed the strongest year-on-year growth of all the states, while the Australian Capital Territory (2.85%), Tasmania (2.82%) and South Australia (1.76%) remained steady. Western Australia (0.12%) saw a slight increase for the first time in 2018. Concerningly, Queensland saw a major drop off, posting a 0.03% rise to lag behind the rest of the country.

“We are hoping that relief will be just on the horizon for retailers, with the application of GST to overseas purchases under $1000 and potential income tax relief on the way from 1 July,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Local retailers will finally be able to compete on a more level playing field once the GST changes come into effect, and we are hoping this will see consumers increase their spending in local stores.”

Monthly Retail Growth (March 2018 - April 2018 seasonally adjusted) 

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.31%), Other retailing (0.87%), Household goods retailing (0.69%), Food retailing (0.30%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.82%) and Department stores (-0.90%).

Northern Territory (2.58%), Tasmania (0.90%), New South Wales (0.69%), Western Australia (0.69%), Australian Capital Territory (0.55%), Victoria (0.35%), Queensland (0.14%), and South Australia (-0.59%).

Total sales (0.27%).

Year-on-Year Retail Growth (April 2017 - April 2018 seasonally adjusted)

Food retailing (3.45%), Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (3.38%), Household goods retailing (3.00%), Other retailing (2.10%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (2.02%), and Department stores (-3.74%).

Victoria (4.73%), Northern Territory (3.64%), New South Wales (3.55%), Australian Capital Territory (2.85%), Tasmania (2.82%), South Australia (1.76%), Western Australia (0.12%), and Queensland (0.03%).

Total sales (2.62%).


About the Australian Retailers Association

Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.


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