Australian retailers enjoyed a strong start to 2015 largely as a result of lower petrol prices, the National Retail Association said today.
Retail trade data for January, released today by the ABS, showed growth of 0.4 per cent in January in seasonally adjusted terms, with discretionary items including restaurants, takeaways and department stores enjoying the largest increases.
NRA Chief Executive Trevor Evans said the positive figures confirmed the anecdotal evidence from retailers, and he said comparatively lower petrol prices could be the reason for much of the additional spending.
“Recent research by Citibank has shown that lower petrol prices are worth between $6 billion and $8 billion to Australian retailers, because of the additional money they put into consumers’ pockets,” Mr Evans said.
“These figures for January following on from a strong Christmas trading period indicate that consumers are certainly feeling more confident and cashed up than they were 12 months ago, and the extra money they are saving at the bowser is bound to be contributing to that.”
In seasonally adjusted terms the largest contributor to the rise was cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, which increased by 2.0 per cent in the month. Department stores (2.2 per cent), other retailing (1.0 per cent) and household goods retailing (0.7 per cent) also recorded rises in January, the ABS said.
These were partially offset by falls in food retailing (-0.7 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.1 per cent).
The strongest performing states were Tasmania (growth of 1.9 per cent), Queensland (1.2 per cent), Victoria (0.5 per cent) and Western Australia (0.1. per cent). New South Wales was unchanged while the ACT (-1.9 per cent), the Northern Territory (-1.8 per cent) and South Australia (-0.1 per cent) recorded falls.
“The differing results among the states and sectors show the retail industry’s recover is still patchy,” Mr Evans said.
“However, these numbers continue a pattern of modest growth that has run almost unbroken over the last 18 months.
“In next month’s trade figures we should see the early results of the February rate cut beginning to wash through.
“We are also seeing a number of large international chains opening their doors or expanding their presence throughout Australia. These are all positive signs for the Australian economy and the retail sector.”
The National Retail Association is Australia’s largest and most representative retail industry body, representing large and small businesses in all facets of the retail sector.
NRA CEO Trevor Evans is available for interviews. Contact the NRA’s media team on 07 3240 0163.