Retail sales increase slightly through August

Retail turnover saw a modest uptick over the month of August according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which noted a 0.3 per cent increase compared to a flat July.

Online retail sales contributed 5.6 per cent to total turnover, compared to 5.5 per cent in July, and 4.6 per cent the August prior.

The National Retailers Association called this increase the “weakest back-to-back results for 2018”.

“The August ABS retail figures are far from disastrous, but they do show that the sector is continuing to experience a modest sales period,” Acting NRA chief executive Lindsay Carroll said.

“[It] is certainly an improvement on July, with five of the six retail industries recording a rise in turnover, and all state and territories bar the Northern Territory seeing an increase in sales.”

Carroll added that these figures emphasise the need for governments to put retail-friendly measures in place ahead of the looming holiday period, urging for extended trading hours to be considered.

“It’s very important that we don’t get complacent ahead of the most important period of the year, especially with increases to Saturday and evening penalty rates being phased-in for casual employees in retail from 1 November,” Carroll said.

The Australian Retailers Association believe the strong figures enjoyed by the clothing, footwear and personal accessories (0.8 per cent monthly, 4 per cent year-on-year) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.7 per cent monthly, 5 per cent year-on-year) are a consequence of the personal tax cuts starting in July.

“This quiet consumer confidence can be seen across various retail categories with consumers rewarding themselves with little luxuries across the market,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.

“We hope this boost to consumer confidence and discretionary spend flows through to the end of the year where retailers are hoping to see their biggest trade yet.”

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