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Rebound for retail sales, food retailing in February

The latest ABS Retail Trade figures reveal a rebound in retail sales, seasonally adjusted, with Australian retail turnover rising 0.7% in February following a rise of 0.5% in January 2015, while food retailing rose 1.2%.

In current prices, the trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.3% in February 2015 following a 0.3% rise in both January 2015 and December 2014. Food retailing rose in trend terms by 0.2%. Through the year, the trend estimate rose 4.0% in February 2015 compared to February 2014.

The following states and territories rose in trend terms in February 2015: Queensland (0.6%), NSW (0.2%), Victoria (0.3%), WA (0.3%), SA (0.3%), Tasmania (0.4%) and the ACT (0.1%), while the NT (0.0%) was relatively unchanged.

Online retail turnover contributed 2.8% to total retail turnover in original terms.

In current prices, the trend estimate for Food retailing by industry subgroup rose for Supermarket, grocery and convenience stores (0.1%) and Other specialised food retailing (0.3%), and was relatively unchanged for Liquor retailing (0.0%).

The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said that February’s sales figures, although modest, were heading in the right direction.

“February is usually a tough trading month for retailers so we are certainly pleased to see month on month retail figures continue to rise. Year on year growth for February is also looking strong at 4.3%, despite shaky levels of consumer confidence over the past year,” he said.

Low petrol prices are also likely to have contributed to consumer spending patterns.

Mr Zimmerman said that retailers are now starting to focus their attention on the upcoming Federal Budget for a confidence boost and will be looking to small business tax cuts being delivered in order to boost their bottom lines.

“Retailers welcome potential tax cuts, with real tax reform and broadening of the GST base through measures such as collection of GST on overseas goods under $1000 being the best place to start,” he said.

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