The Australian retail sector is set to smash through the $300 billion mark for the first time this financial year, according to new research released by the National Retail Association.
NRA CEO Trevor Evans said all indications were that the industry was continuing to experience the solid growth enjoyed in 2014/15, particularly after one of the busiest Christmas and Boxing Day trading periods in recent years – a period in which the number of people employed in the retail sector reached a record high.
“There’s every reason to believe that – barring sudden external shocks to the Australian economy – retail should become a $300 billion industry this financial year,” he said.
The NRA launched the figures as part of its new quarterly industry index ‘Retail Connect’, in a sign of the growing importance of the retail sector to the national economy.
The first Retail Connect report shows that, based on a modest 4.6 per cent growth projection, the industry will generate sales of $299.2 billion in 2015/16. If the 4.8 per cent growth achieved last year is repeated, sales will surpass $300 billion for the first time.
“Since July last year, the sector has benefited from rising employment, home prices and consumer confidence – all of which have driven sales leading into the summer holiday period,” Mr Evans said.
“This Retail Connect report also shows that the number of individuals employed in the sector reached 1.312 million in December – a record high. The demand for labour is expected to continue growing throughout 2016, with job vacancies on track to reach a record high by June.
“All of this underlines the growing significance of the retail sector as a driver of growth and employment in the Australian economy.”
The NRA will continue to produce a Retail Connect report each quarter, in order to create a time-series snapshot of the sector’s performance.