Perhaps Gerry Harvey and his band of protesting retailers were right – the latest flat retail figures point to major losses for store sales.
And it’s not seen the worst of it yet.
These figures corroborate the dismal picture painted by new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics which showed an increase of a paltry 0.3 per cent on October’s poor performance.
The figures emerging from a new survey conducted by Dun and Bradstreet has shown retailers suffering as competition from Asia, the availability of cheap imports and online goods, courtesy of the strong Australian dollar, have spelt disaster for trading figures.
This comes in spite of a booming business environment overall, with the survey of 1,200 businesses predicting huge rises in sales, profits and investment, for Q1 2011.
The profits index added four points to 30, the highest level in seven years.
The distinction between retailers and other sectors is most apparent in sales performance, with sales forecasts for the first quarter remaining positive at 31, a figure that is well above any quarter in the previous six years.
The results also indicate a huge disparity between retailers and the rest of the economy.
“For retailers they would probably expect to see their difficulties continue for a few more months yet,” according to Dun and Bradstreet’s Damian Karmelich.
“But meanwhile those businesses that are engaging with other businesses or are exposed to Asia are looking to have a very strong start to 2011.
Both Harvey Norman and Myer have confirmed they are seeking to move their online businesses to China in a bid to avoid GST levies on goods sold in Australia under $1000.
Perhaps they should make this move sooner rather than later.
The news comes as a retailers campaign led by industry stalwarts including Solomon Lew, Myers’ Bernie Brooks and Gerry Harvey sought to put pressure on Canberra to introduce a 10 percent GST Tax on all goods purchased from overseas web sites including goods under $1,000, launching a series of full page ads on Boxing Day.
“So far discounting doesn’t seem to be working too well but nonetheless there are clear signs that they will continue with that tactic,” he said.
“The other clear indication is that they are going to run down their stock rather than build up their inventories, so you may see that flow on to manufacturers who see less orders from retailers.”