Retail sales rose 3.6 per cent year on year in April 2016, with food retailing reporting a soft figure of 2.4 per cent compared to April 2015, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) believes this figure can be attributed to competition between the major supermarkets and the increasing presence of discount retailer Aldi, causing deflation within the supermarket sector.

“With supermarkets accounting for nearly 50 per cent of all retail sales, the soft increase of only 2.16 per cent year on year in supermarkets contributed to the low growth of the retail sector of 3.6 per cent” ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman said.

By category, household goods retailing posted the highest year on year growth at 5.8 per cent; followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, 4.8 per cent, other retailing, 4.4 per cent; department stores, 3.6 per cent; cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services 3 per cent and food retailing, 2.4 per cent.

By state, saw growth of Australian Capital Territory 6.8 per cent; followed by Tasmania, 5.8 per cent;  New South Wales, 5 per cent; Victoria 4.3 per cent; South Australia, 3.4 per cent; Western Australia, 2 per cent; Northern Territory, 1.6 per cent and Queensland, 1.2 per cent.

The National Retail Association (NRA) said that although retail sales had failed to reach national economic projections of 0.3 per cent for the month (coming in at a weak 0.2 per cent increase, seasonally adjusted), the industry is looking forward to the second half of 2016.

NRA industry research and data analyst, Cameron Meiklejohn, noted that: “While the results have fallen short of economic predictions, there is some good news. The ABS data suggests consumers are heading out to eat, with a 0.3 per cent increase in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services”.

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