Retail trade figures saw drop in lead up to Christmas

Peak retail industry body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) released disappointing November lead-in figures for Christmas
 with the largest contributor to the fall being household goods retailing (-0.9%) followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.6%) and department stores (-0.4%).

As conveyed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the 0.1% month-on-month drop in November retail trade would be discouraging to retailers who were hoping for a slight boost heading into the 2012-13 festive season.

In consideration of the hit, ARA edxecutive director Russell Zimmerman says that reports in recent days of reduced lending costs of major banks need to be addressed. He admits that not only should the Reserve Bank lower interest rates, but the major banks should also pass on additional rate cuts to help ease the pain. “The figures indicate that there remains a lack of consumer confidence due to tax hikes, increases in utility bills and private health insurance,” says Zimmerman.

The lack of business certainty has again reared its ugly head, with Zimmerman looking to Canberra to step up in this election year and deliver reassurance. “In the build-up to this year’s federal election, what Australia needs is strong economic leadership in light of these figures,” he explains.

While the ARA executive director notes that a series of data showing a lack of confidence and positive economic data have been compounded across multiple areas of the economy, he informs that there is still some good news in one of the sectors.

“The increase in both month-on-month and year-on-year growth in the cafes, restaurants and takeaways category correlates with the beginning of the Christmas party season.”

Well, that’s something at least, added to the fact that food retailing (0.0%) was relatively unchanged, and remains the benchmark being the strongest performing industry (up 0.4% in trend terms).

On a holistic level, the trend estimate for Australian retail turnover was somewhat unaffected in November 2012 (0.0 %). This follows a rise of 0.1% in October 2012 and a rise of 0.1% in September 2012.

A breakdown of the figures:

Monthly retail growth (October 2012 – November 2012)

By category:
Other retailing (1%), food retailing (0%), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.3%), department stores (-0.4%), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.6%), household goods retailing (-0.9%). Total sales (-0.1%).

By state:
Australian Capital Territory (1%), Victoria (0.3%), Queensland (0%), Tasmania (0.1%), New South Wales (-0.2%), Western Australia (-0.3%), South Australia (-0.6%), Northern Territory (-0.9%).

Year-on-year retail growth (November 2011 – November 2012)

By category:
Cafes, restaurants and takeaways (5.3%), food retailing (4.5%), other retailing (3.6%), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (2.1%), department stores (2.1%), and household goods retailing (-2.1%). Total sales (2.9%).

By state:
Western Australia (8.7%), Australian Capital Territory (6.1%), Queensland (4.7%), New South Wales (2.3%), Northern Territory (1.9%), Victoria (1.2%), South Australia (0.8%), Tasmania (-5%). Total sales (2.9%).