Food, supermarket retail sales flat, hospitality gains January boost

Despite the trend estimate for supermarket, grocery and convenience stores rising by only 0.1% and other specialised food retailing by 0.1%, overall retail trade rose 0.4% seasonally adjusted helped by lower petrol prices, while café, restaurant and takeaway trade gained a 2.0% boost.

ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said retailers reported strong sales in the first week of January but experienced a tougher trading environment towards the end of the month.

“Boxing Day was huge for retailers this year and many consumers carried on bargain hunting well into the first half of January,” he said.

“While food retailing suffered during January (-0.7%) due to consumers often being away from home and choosing to eat out instead, the cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services sector enjoyed a nice boost in sales (2.0%),” Mr Zimmerman said.

He added that February retail sales will be interesting, as Valentine’s Day usually provides retailers with another welcome boost in sales.

According to ABS retail trade figures, at current prices, the trend estimate for Australian turnover rose 0.2% in January 2015 following a rise of 0.2% in December 2014 and a rise of 0.3% in November 2014.

The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 0.4% in January 2015. This follows a rise of 0.2% in December 2014 and a relatively unchanged (0.0%) November 2014. In trend terms, Australian turnover rose 3.1% in January 2015 compared with January 2014.

By industry subgroup, the trend estimate rose for supermarket, grocery and convenience stores (0.1%) and other specialised food retailing (0.1%), but fell for liquor retailing (-0.1%).

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

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