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Retail sales rose 0.5% in September, ABS said today.
Household goods (+1.2%), Food (+0.6%), ‘Other’ retailing (+0.8%) which includes CE, were the big winners in September while Department stores (-0.5%) and Clothing (-0.6%) both slumped in September trading.

WA, ACT and SA showed the most growth in retail, while Queensland, NSW, Tas and Vic trailed behind.

Australian Retailers Association’s (ARA) Executive Director, Russell Zimmerman, said the 0.5 percent month on month rise in September was steady at best and highlighted the need to level the regulatory playing field for retailers through GST and penalty rates reforms.

At the moment, the unlevel playing field created by the GST threshold means retailers are hampered from competing effectively, ARA said in a statement.

“Retailers are also struggling to remain competitive and respond to consumer demand for around- the- clock trading because penalty rates associated with employing staff on Sundays, weekends and public holidays exceed the benefits of remaining open,” he said.

“In the lead up to Christmas, we have seen examples of consumer- friendly trade allowances such as 24 hour shopping in Sydney; these potentially beneficial changes will mean nothing if retailers are unable to take advantage of them due to an anti- competitive regulatory environment and wage pressures.”

Anecdotal evidence of a soft job market as well as the decline in the department stores could also indicate retailers are struggling to employ staff at the very time of year they are usually hiring Christmas casuals, which may be confirmed by today’s job advertisement figures, the retail body warned.

The ARA is also calling on the RBA to cut rates tomorrow in order to boost consumer confidence in the lead up to Christmas trading.

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