Retail trade slows as cost of doing business grows

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed spending in January rose 1.1 per cent, following a drop of 2.1 per cent in December.

Rob Godwin, Director at the National Retail Association (NRA), said while data reveals that retail turnover has stalled, population growth and increasing costs of doing business show retail growth has actually fallen in real terms.

“At face value the 1.1 per cent increase looks positive for a traditionally slow month but factoring in Australia’s accelerating population and disappointing December sales reveal retail growth has actually gone backwards.

“Income from the festive season is usually the pot of gold at the end of a hard year for retailers, but poor sales have forced businesses to carry the cost of sales into January.”

Godwin said that ahead of the Reserve Bank’s two-day monetary policy meeting this week, retailers are calling on them to move up their timeline on interest rate cuts as inflation eases and as spending stagnates.

“As Aussies return from overseas trips, food-related industries such as, cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services enjoyed a steady rise of 1.3 per cent.

“Food retailing, which fell by 0.1 per cent, was the only industry to experience a drop in sales.”

Godwin encouraged policymakers to consider the role of retail in maintaining Australia’s productivity as they manage the effects of inflation.

“Retail is the second largest employer in the country and needs urgent support so it can continue to offer employment opportunities to everyday Australians.”

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