Retail turnover rises 0.3 per cent in March

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade figures show that Australian retail turnover rose 0.3 per cent in March following a rise of 0.7 per cent in February 2015, seasonally adjusted.

In seasonally adjusted terms the largest contributor to the rise was department stores (3.8 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (2.2 per cent), food retailing (0.4 per cent) and other retailing (0.1 per cent). There were falls in household goods retailing (one per cent) and cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.1 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms there were rises in Queensland (0.7 per cent), NSW (0.3 per cent), Victoria (0.2 per cent), SA (0.3 per cent) and Tasmania (0.5 per cent). There were falls in WA (0.3 per cent), the ACT (0.5 per cent) and the NT (0.8 per cent).

The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.3 per cent in March, following an 0.4 per cent rise in February. Through the year, the trend estimate rose 4.3 per cent in March 2015 compared with March 2014.

The ABS experimental domestic online series recorded a 19 per cent rise in March compared with February. Pure play retail experienced a 24 per cent rise, while multichannel retailing rose 16 per cent.

National Retail Association CEO Trevor Evans said the results were an endorsement of the Reserve Bank’s decision to cut the cash rate in February.

“Some of the additional money in people’s pockets from that decision has flowed into the economy, and it is helping to continue the modest but steady growth we have seen in retail over the last 18 months,” he said.

“We hope that this trend will continue with this week’s rate cut, and that these positive figures will give both consumers and businesses much-needed confidence in the future.”

Australian National Retailers Association CEO Anna McPhee said the uptick in retail activity in March represents the tenth consecutive month of growing consumer consumption and this is a positive sign for the economy, particularly ahead of the federal budget.

“Despite retail activity growing since May 2014, retailers remain wary of the potential impacts of next week’s federal budget, given the downward effect last year,” she said.

“We would encourage the Government to consider the need to clearly articulate the benefits and costs of major policy announcements to consumers to deliver continuity to confidence and not dampen consumers’ willingness to engage in the economy.”

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