THE Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the November trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reflect a sluggish preview for the Christmas trading period, with 2.76 percent total growth year-on-year.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, said while these figures were slightly less than the ARA and Roy Morgan predicted, the ARA was still optimistic that the retail sector would reach the estimated $51 billion pre-Christmas sales figure, which should provide some relief to retailers as they welcome the new year.

"Our combined research with Roy Morgan forecasted a 2.9 percent increase in pre-Christmas sales, as we projected shoppers to spend $51 billion from retail stores across the country from November 9 to December 26, 2018,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“According to the November figures released today by the ABS, the Apparel and Footwear category recognised substantial growth with an impressive 5.87 percent year-on-year lift, with consumers purchasing outfits for upcoming festivities and the warmer summer months ahead.”

Department stores also posted a welcome 1.63 percent year-on-year growth, while the Other retailing/online category was saw a weaker-than-anticipated at 4.68 percent year-on-year.

“Sales events in the month of November certainly contributed to a steady lead-in to the festive season, particularly for department stores and online retailing,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

The overall Food category exhibited a conservative 1.25 percent year-on-year growth, while Supermarkets remained strong with 4.50 percent year-on-year growth, and specialised food saw a 3.84 percent increase. 

“As expected, the Specialised Food and Supermarket categories received a slight increase, with many shoppers across the nation preparing their tables for Christmas Day,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“However, some of this increase must be attributed to a reduction in supply of fresh produce due to weather events, especially the ongoing drought, which has driven prices of fruits, vegetables and meat upwards.”

South Australia (0.93%) and Western Australia (0.30%) remained stable, with the Northern Territory (-1.76%) receiving a negative result in November. 

“Although Victoria has led the charge in sales across the country for most of 2018, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), surpassed the nation in November with a stellar 5.52 percent year-on-year growth,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

“Western Australia (WA) has noted an impressive three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, and we are seeing some cautious, yet promising signs of a rebound after experiencing a sluggish two years of retail trade.”

Mr Zimmerman said although today’s figures profess a muted lead-in to Christmas, the ARA are confident that the industry will show its stripes when the December trade figures are released in February. 

“Based on what we have seen and heard from retailers and our members, we believe the overall Christmas trade will indicate secure growth, with many large retailers noticing growth in-store,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

“The ARA will continue to partner with Roy Morgan to deliver the only professionally researched industry Christmas predictions in Australia, and we believe the figures released today represent an accurate preview of sales in the lead-up to the festive season.” 

Monthly Retail Growth (October 2018 – November 2018 seasonally adjusted) 

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.52%), Household goods retailing (1.24%), Food retailing (0.23%), Department stores (0.43%) Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.08%) and Other retailing (-0.11%).

Australian Capital Territory (1.63%), New South Wales (0.76%), Victoria (0.63%), Western Australia (0.56%), Queensland (0.43%), South Australia (-0.02%),Tasmania (-0.24%) and Northern Territory (-0.92%).

Total sales (0.42%).

Year-on-Year Retail Growth (November 2017 – November 2018 seasonally adjusted)

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (5.87%), Food retailing (4.05%), Other retailing (2.71%), Department stores(1.63%), Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.25%) and Household goods retailing (0.11%).

Australian Capital Territory (5.52%), Victoria (4.58%), Queensland (3.67%), Tasmania (3.01%), New South Wales (1.92%), South Australia (0.93%), Western Australia (0.30%) and Northern Territory (-1.76%).

Total sales (2.76%). 

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 or call 1300 368 041.


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INDUSTRY Super Australia (ISA) has welcomed overdue attempts to improve superannuation fee disclosure, but warned proposals announced by the financial watchdog will fail to address ongoing issues.

ISA reported that under the current regime, platforms – typically owned by banks and wealth management groups – are not required to disclose all costs relating to underlying investment products.

"As a result, consumers may be misled into believing such products are less expensive than those with direct investments, when in fact they are likely to be more costly," an ISA report said.

"Throughout several years of consultations, ISA has consistently called for super disclosure to centre on a clear and effective measure of net returns. 

"Taking both fees and investment performance into account, this measure would allow consumers to more easily compare the appropriateness of different products, such as superannuation funds, platforms, and other managed investment schemes.

"But proposals released yesterday by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) will only serve to further complicate, rather than simplify, the current disclosure regime."

Crucially, ISA said, the ASIC proposals failed to recommend an end to the platforms exemption. 

Efforts to address the relevant consumer comparability concerns are similarly disappointing, said ISA.

"Under the proposals, platform providers would be required to include a ‘prominent statement’ in fees and costs templates, advising that disclosed fees simply relate to “gaining access” to the underlying products, and do not factor in the actual ongoing costs of those products." 

In calling for a broader, much-needed overhaul of disclosure, ISA director of research and campaigns, Nick Coates, questioned the value of this requirement.

“The concept of including a ‘prominent statement’ is, to be blunt, a cop-out,” Mr Coates said.

“It’s essentially just a warning to members that what you see is not what you get when it comes to platform fees.”

“This simply continues to place consumers at risk, rendering it almost impossible to make meaningful comparisons between products.”

With the banking royal commission yet to hand down its final report, ISA also questioned the timing of the consultation.

ISA said ASIC should wait for the royal commission’s findings, which may include recommendations relating to disclosure, before commencing a through revision of the regime.

"It is important that such a review includes consumer testing, to gauge what works best in assisting people to choose the best performing funds with the lowest fees," Mr Coates said.

“It’s clear that a complete rethink is needed when it comes to disclosure, to ensure a net returns measure is placed front and centre,” he said.

“Papering over the cracks isn’t good enough, especially when the proposed fix is so flawed.”

Consultations close on April 2, 2019.



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WITH THE SCHOOL holidays concluding in a few short weeks, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) anticipate the sale of uniforms, school shoes, stationery, technology and backpacks will significantly increase over the coming weeks, as parents prepare their kids for the upcoming school year. 

The ARA predicts many stores and shopping centres across the nation will re-directing their attention from the festive season to back to school supplies, as this is the peak trading period for back to school sales.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the ARA, said retailers who specialise in the apparel, footwear and stationery sectors are bound to see a significant increase in trade throughout January. 

“As the arrival of a new school year is about to begin, retailers have been preoccupied with stocking their shelves full of back to school products to ensure each student is equipped with the essentials to thrive throughout the new school year,” Mr Zimmerman said.  

“With many busy parents returning to work, we believe parents will be opting to purchase back to school items from retailers who offer flexibility, convenience and unmissable sales and bargains.” 

As the use of technology begins to spread throughout the education system, sales in portable technology are also expected to see a hike, with most public schools asking parents to purchase either an iPad or Surface Pro for children in year three or year four as a one-off expense. 

“With the use of technology becoming increasingly prevalent across the Government education system, parents will be on the lookout for new technology that will enhance their child’s learning experience and stimulate their imagination and creativity,” Mr Zimmerman said. 

While technology may be a popular learning tool for tech-savvy youngsters, stationery retailers can still expect to see an incline in sales as well, with many parents purchasing writing materials for their children. 

“Retailers who specialise in stationery including newsagents and stationers present the ideal destination for parents who wish to cross-off pens and school books noted on their school lists.”

The ARA forecasted Aussie parents would spend over $840 on back to school supplies for each child. With school shoes accounting for up to $150 of the total cost, Mr Zimmerman said parents should look to purchase from shoe retailers who offer shoes that exude comfort, support and durability. 

“As shoe retailers drive enthusiasm and innovation into the back to school category, we’ve noticed a rise in the purchase of velcro and scuff resistant shoes in the traditional shoe styles,” Mr Zimmerman said.  

“While the private school system prefers a more traditional school shoe, the ARA have recognised a surge in the number of sporting shoe styles purchased by parents, particularly in the Government primary school system, the result of an ongoing eased approach to the black shoe standard policy.”

With the number of back to school essentials growing every year, retailers who provide expert advice on specific products will flourish in sales and notice a considerable increase foot-traffic over this trading period. 

“Parents and retailers recognise that the start of a new school year marks a milestone for each student around the country, therefore both parents and retailers will go above and beyond to ensure each student receives the school supplies required to secure a fantastic school year.”

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 or call 1300 368 041.


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THE Queensland resources industry has helped Queensland post a record $80 billion export milestone with an extra $10 billion earnt through the sale of Queensland coal, minerals and petroleum across the globe.
Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said according to latest Queensland Treasury report, the state’s resource exports had increased to $65.6 billion – or 81 percent of the state’s total merchandise exports – over the 12 months to 30 November last year.
“Over those 12 months, the Queensland resources sector exports earnt our State the equivalent of $125,000 every minute,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The growth in our exports has been strong.  Our export earnings increased by $10 billion with double-digit growth in coal and mineral sales overseas.  A strong resource sector means a strong Queensland.
“Since the Palaszczuk Government took office in February 2015, resource sector exports have increased by 114 percent.  The growth of other exports was less than 7 percent over the same period.”
Mr Macfarlane said it was critical for Queensland, including the 316,000 Queenslanders who work directly and indirectly in the resources sector, that the Government maintained stable policy and royalty tax rates, continued to encourage exploration through land releases for new discoveries, and worked with the industry on its skills development, investment attraction and export promotion initiatives.
“The recent State Budget update showed the resources sector is contributing a record $5 billion in royalty taxes this financial year,” he said.
Mr Macfarlane said the resources sector was determined, in 2019, to accept Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's offer to work together with the sector.
In her address at the QRC annual lunch in November last year, Premier Palaszczuk committed her government to work with the QRC to promote existing initiatives and explore new opportunities to: 

• expand the availability of land for mineral and energy resource exploration and development; 
• strengthen our export partnerships, create new resource export markets and increase development of advanced manufacturing and renewable energy in Queensland; 
• work together to identify and develop the skills and training needed for our resources industry and towards opportunities for diversity of employment by increasing the number of women and Indigenous Queenslanders in the industry.
Specifically, the Premier committed “to continue with timely consultation with the Queensland Resources Council on legislative and policy changes”.


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NEW DATA reaffirms the resource sector’s importance to the Queensland economy with recordliquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the Port of Gladstone totalling 20.58 million tonnes (mt) in 2018, according to the Queensland Resources Council (QRC).
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said the data released by Gladstone Ports showed a new record which eclipsed the previous record set in 2017 (20.23 mt).
“Queensland’s LNG sector is forecast to continue its record export growth that is being driven by an energy hungry Asia.  China was again the largest customer buying nearly 14.25 mt followed by South Korea at 3.22 mt while Japan imported 1.6 mt,” Mr Macfarlane said.
“The world wants our commodities and over the 12 months Queensland LNG was exported to seven different countries - China, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia (0.88 mt), Singapore (0.47 mt), United Arab Emirates (0.06 mt) and the Philippines (0.06 mt). 
“China’s demand for our LNG in 2017 was 57 percent of total exports but last year it was 69 percent. According to the Office of the Chief Economist’s latest report, China plans to increase the share of gas in its energy mix from 7 percent to a range of 8–10 percent by 2020. 
“The same report found Australia had become the world’s largest single gas exporter, ahead of Qatar, and is on track for annual exports of 77 million tonnes. 
“LNG is likely to play a major role in servicing the rising Chinese gas demand with the country’s LNG imports forecast to reach 53 million tonnes or 73 billion cubic metres in 12 months.
“Resource exports help pay for Queenslanders’ everyday needs through royalty taxes, for the teachers that educate our children, the nurses and doctors who look after our health and the police force that keeps us safe.”
QRC’s current economic data shows the oil and gas industry delivered a $8.2 billion economic contribution in 2017/18 and supported more than 39,000 full time employees across the State and invested $3 billion with businesses locally and community organisations.


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