Disappointing trade figures for April show the retail industry is struggling to find momentum and more needs to be done by governments across the country to stimulate confidence and spending.
National Retail Association CEO Trevor Evans said the result of 0.0 per cent growth, seasonally adjusted, was far from pleasing and indicated penalty rates and public holidays over Easter stifled growth in April.
“Despite a strong start to the year, today’s figures show there’s still a lot of work needed to foster growth in the main lanes of the economy,” Mr Evans said.
“April should be a perfect opportunity for consumer spending given the four-day Easter long weekend. Yet steep penalty rates on public holidays are shutting down our industry when it desperately needs to stay open.
“It’s time, governments across the country take action on this important issue. Jobs and the economy are suffering.”
Mr Evans also noted that the figures pertained to the month leading up to the Federal Budget.
“Today’s results suggest that households and businesses held their collective breath in the lead up to the Federal Budget, waiting to see how it compared to last year,” Mr Evans said.
“Retailers will be hoping to see better sales figures following the Federal Budget, given its focus on households and small business. For longer term confidence, we are hoping that the Senate passes the big ticket budget items promptly.”
The ABS reported that while consumer spending on household goods remained relatively unchanged (0.0 per cent) and small rises in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.3 per cent), there were falls in food retailing (-0.1 per cent) and department stores (-0.7 per cent).
The best performing product categories included fashion accessories, furniture, electrical and hardware.
Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Northern Territory recorded small rises, New South Wales remained relatively unchanged. However Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia experienced falls.
CEO Trevor Evans is available for comment, contact the NRA media unit 07 3240 0152
The NRA is Australia’s largest and most diverse retail industry organisation, and has been representing the interests of the retail, fast food and broader service sector for almost 100 years.