January retail sales rise

January retail sales rose 4 per cent year on year, according to the latest trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

January’s 4 per cent growth year on year growth is identical to that of December 2015, and reflects a total retail spend by Aussies of $24.8 billion for the month.

Russell Zimmerman, executive director of the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), expressed hope that the January sales increase will set the pace for the coming year, with Australian retailers crossing their fingers for a buoyant 2016.

“The first month of 2016 experienced a healthy level of growth, well in line with the ARA’s expectations,” said Mr Zimmerman.

“While this is a great start to the New Year, what we really would like to see is sustained, incremental rises in retail sales.

“Retailers are now coming off the strongest trading period of the year, being December and January, and maintaining the momentum of Christmas and post-Christmas is vital,” he said.

By category, household goods reported the highest year on year growth at 5.8 per cent; followed by other retailing, 4.8 per cent; clothing, footwear and personal accessories, 4.7 per cent; food, 4 per cent; and cafes, restaurants and takeaway foods, 2 per cent. Department stores recorded the smallest increate at 1 per cent.

State-wise, the ACT saw a tremendous increase of an unprecedented 7.7 per cent – a level not seen since June 2015. This was followed by New South Wales, 5.2 per cent; Victoria, 5 per cent; Tasmania and Northern Territory both rose 4.7 per cent; South Australia, 4.2 per cent; Queensland, 2.4 per cent; and Western Australia, 1.3 per cent.

Retail Council CEO Anna McPhee said as the economy increasingly looks to domestic drivers of growth, January’s result is a good sign for retail activity to continue to build momentum and contribute to growth in the year ahead.

“Many categories are growing at a faster annual pace than the same time last year which is a positive indicator that the sector is on a path to build on 2015’s performance,” Ms McPhee said.

“With low petrol prices and interest rates remaining at record lows, there is an opportunity for retailers who focus on their customer.”

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