Australia’s largest and most representative retail industry association has welcomed a steady start to 2016, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics today reporting a 4.0 per cent increase in sales compared with 12 months earlier.
National Retail Association chief executive Trevor Evans said steady growth figures were welcome, as the industry continued to emerge from several years of dour trading results.
But Mr Evans said retailers needed the Federal Government to get serious about implementing the workplace reforms recommended by the Productivity Commission last year, in order to fully unleash the industry’s potential for sustaining and creating jobs.
The ABS reported retail turnover rose 0.3 per cent in January 2016, seasonally adjusted, with the strongest growth recorded in the categories of household goods (1.0 per cent), cafes restaurants and takeaway food (1.0 per cent) and other retailing (1.4 per cent). Footwear and personal accessory retailing was relatively steady (0.1 per cent), while food retailing (-0.2 per cent) and department stores (-1.3 per cent) both fell.
In trend terms, sales rose 4.0 per cent compared with January 2015.
On a state-by-state basis, seasonally adjusted, there were rises in New South Wales (0.5 per cent), Queensland (0.3 per cent), South Australia (0.4 per cent), Western Australia (0.2 per cent), Tasmania (1.0 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (0.7 per cent) and the Northern Territory (1.3 per cent). Victoria (0.0 per cent) was relatively unchanged in January 2016.
Mr Evans said the year-on-year growth figure was welcome, particularly after some lean years following the GFC, but was still slightly below the long-term average.
“Retail continues the slow recovery from the lows of the post-GFC period, and it’s pleasing to see growth rates creeping back towards what we would consider a normal result.
“However retailers remain constrained by the workplace relations regime, and particularly the hefty double time penalty rates that apply on Sundays.
“The Productivity Commission recognised that this was holding back jobs growth in retail, and recommended a more realistic time and a half for all standard weekend work.
“This reform would give retailers a much-needed kick along – allowing them to sharpen their prices in order to compete with on-line sales and to boost local spending.”
Trevor Evans is available for media interviews. Please call the National Retail Association’s media unit on 0467 792 013.