Retail sales stall in March

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics report released this week shows that retail turnover stalled in March, with a seasonally adjusted figure of zero per cent change following a 0.6 per cent rise in February.

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were falls in NSW (0.1 per cent), Queensland (0.2 per cent), Western Australia (0.1 per cent) and Tasmania (0.3 per cent). Retail trade rose in Victoria (0.2 per cent), the ACT (1.5 per cent), South Australia (0.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.1 per cent).

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb says the ABS figures are disappointing and again demonstrate the modest start to 2018 that retail is experiencing.

“The March figures represent a stall in retail sales with all industries recording a drop in turnover – other than food retailing,” she said.

“At a state level, the news was also fairly disappointing with half the states and territories recording declining sales.

“This is very sobering news for retailers across the country and again highlights the modest start to 2018 that the sector is experiencing.”

Australian Retailers Association Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says that although March figures are in line with expected year-on-year retail growth, the ARA would like to see much stronger growth for retailers, which are already struggling in an uncertain market.

“Although March trade figures are slightly stronger than February’s retail trade, the growth relies highly on food retailing,” he said.

“We’ve seen the majority of retail categories take a step back in year-on-year growth across the industry.”

Food retailing grew by 4.17 per cent year on year, with a boost from specialised food (up 9.84 per cent), liquor (up 7.26 per cent) and supermarkets (up 3.37 per cent).

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