October trade figures suggest a strong lead-up to the Christmas trading period, with a 3.56 per cent total year-on-year increase.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomed the figures, just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says the results should increase confidence and he predicted a busy Christmas for retailers.
“As we lead into Christmas, October is the third consecutive month with year-on-year growth topping 3.5 per cent,” he said.
“Retailers across the country can expect to see an uptick in sales, with consumers rushing through stores to finalise their purchases and set their tables in preparation for the big day.”
Strong growth for several categories
The ‘other’ retailing category saw the strongest year-on-year growth at 5.5 per cent. Consumers turned to online platforms to buy gifts for Christmas, says the ARA.
“Consumers are increasing their basket size online in the lead-up to the festive season,” Mr Zimmerman said.
The ARA says in October, the clothing, footwear and personal accessories category saw a strong result, with 4.84 per cent year-on-year growth. The arrival of summer began to bear on consumer buying behaviour, says Mr Zimmerman.
“With the warm weather ramping up, we’ve noticed a considerable increase in the apparel category,” he said. “Shoppers are purchasing fashion and accessories to wear for the warmer months ahead.”
Household goods also noted an impressive growth (3.22 per cent). The furniture category in particular recorded a considerable year-on-year result (4.1 per cent), as more consumers began refurbishing their homes and buying outdoor furniture, says the ARA.
‘Resurgence in growth’ expected for food
Additionally, the ARA saw conservative figures for food retailing (3.9 per cent), specialised food (4.55 per cent), supermarkets (4.01 per cent) and electrical goods (3.2 per cent). Pharmacy, cosmetics and toiletries recorded remarkable growth (2.58 per cent).
“Although the food category noticed stagnated growth throughout the October trading period, we can expect this category to see a resurgence in growth,” Mr Zimmerman said. “The festive season is the opportune time to consumers to purchase from food specialty retailers.”
Victoria reigns, NT continues to struggle
Across the country, Victoria (6.39 per cent) led the nation for the fifth consecutive month in a row. Tasmania (5.71 per cent), ACT (4.7 per cent), Queensland (4.11 per cent), South Australia (2.42 per cent), WA (0.63 per cent) and NSW (2.14 per cent) all showed substantial growth.
The Northern Territory, however, recorded negative figures (-0.31 per cent) for the third consecutive month in a row.