Food sales growth flattens, retail needs Government, RBA support

Job worries, rising unemployment and falling real wages have put retail sales on a slowing growth pattern before the expected Christmas spending pick up, while peak industry body the Australian Retailers Association remains hopeful that September figures will continue to highlight positive growth.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said retailers enjoyed only a small increase in sales in August.

“It is imperative that the Federal Government and RBA do all that they can to ensure that retail trade is fully supported. The festive season is also fast approaching and interest rates must remain low in order to support business,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Although year-on-year retail growth rose 5.1% in August 2014 (seasonally adjusted, compared to August 2013) year-on-year retail growth in July was a much healthier 5.8%, the ARA said.

The latest ABS Retail Trade figures show that Australian retail turnover rose 0.1% in August 2014, following a rise of 0.4% in July 2014, seasonally adjusted.

In seasonally adjusted terms the largest contributor was other retailing – newsagents/books, pharmaceutical/cosmetic, and other recreational goods (1.6%), followed by food retailing (0.3%), and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2%), while clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing gained 0.3%.

In seasonally adjusted terms the states which displayed rises were Victoria (0.7%), Northern Territory (1.7%) and Western Australia (0.1%), whilst South Australia and Tasmania were relatively unchanged (0.0%).

The states which displayed falls were Queensland (-0.6%), New South Wales (-0.1%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.4%).

The trend estimate for Australian turnover (at current prices) rose 0.2% in August 2014 following a rise of 0.2% in July 2014.

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