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Australian retail sales rose 3.8 per cent year on year to $24.6 billion in October 2015, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), with food sales up three per cent year on year.

ARA Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, said retail sales growth is tracking at a steady pace ahead of the all-important Christmas shopping period, with October’s growth slightly higher than September’s 3.6 year on year growth.

Year on year figures provide the most accurate measure of the sector’s performance and are the figures used by most retail businesses in their own reporting. October 2015 sales rose 0.5 per cent over September 2015.

“Despite the ARA being disappointed not to have seen a rate cut earlier this week by the Reserve Bank of Australia which would have provided a strong spending incentive in the lead up to Christmas, retailers are well placed to meet our Christmas growth predictions,” Zimmerman said.

The ARA and Roy Morgan Research predicts Australian shoppers will spend $46.8 billion this Christmas in the six weeks from November 15 to December 24 – a record result.

Retail Council CEO, Anna McPhee, said three consecutive months of growth is a welcome change for the sector and a good sign for the economy.

“Today’s result is encouraging and the sector is working hard to ensure this sustainable momentum continues into 2016,” McPhee said.

Household goods and department stores were the big winners in October 2015, with growth of 5.9 per cent and 4.7 per cent respectively. Clothing, footwear and personal accessories, had the third highest sales increase at 4.6 percent; followed by cafés, restaurants and takeaway foods, 3.6 per cent; food, 3 per cent; and other retailing, 2.7 per cent;

By state, Tasmania recorded the highest growth, 5.4 per cent; followed by Victoria, 5.2 per cent; NSW, 4.2 per cent Queensland, 2.9 per cent; South Australia, 2.8 per cent; Australian Capital Territory, 2.3 per cent; Western Australia, 2.1 per cent’; and Northern Territory, 1.6 per cent.

Trevor Evans, CEO of the National Retail Association, said the outlook was positive heading into the busy Christmas season.

“We can expect to see a further increase in retail spend reflected in the November figures, as consumers hit the shops in preparation for Christmas.”

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