Slight rise in May retail figures

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its retail sales numbers for May 2016.

The ABS showed that retail sales rose 0.2 per cent in May on the back of the Reserve Bank’s surprise rate cut, while year-on-year sales growth stands at 3.4 per cent. Basic food retail sales rose 0.7 per cent for the month, while ‘non-food’ retail fell 0.1 per cent. Sales for large food retailers, ie, supermarkets, fell over the month by 0.4 per cent.

Small retailers reported a 1.2 per cent rise in sales, while department store sales grew 0.4 per cent. Overall retail sales for the month totalled $25 billion.

“Most Australian states witnessed a very late start to winter this year, and the extra discounts on offer, combined with the beginning of mid-year sales have been responsible for the bulk of May’s growth,” Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said.

“The blast of cold in the last week of May also served to drive retail spending, sending those who had previously held off on purchases of winter goods and clothing scurrying into stores.”

Tasmania was the state that saw the highest rate of growth, at 5.2 per cent, followed by Victoria at 4.9 per cent and NSW, 4.8 per cent. The mining states showed considerable weakness, with Queensland’s sales falling 0.4 per cent and WA 0.7 per cent.

Mr Zimmerman says that looking ahead, retail numbers were likely to soften in response to the uncertainty surrounding the federal election.

“There is no doubt that during the minority government of 2010 to 2013 we saw very soft retail growth,” he said. “Whatever the outcome should be, the ARA believes that the winner and those that underpin and support the government must ensure a strong focus on economic growth.”

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