Department stores surge ahead

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National retail spending saw 3.2% growth year on year in February 2016.

Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded total retail sales for the month at $24.8 billion.

Department stores surged ahead, with a year on year increase of 6.6%.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessories also recorded an increase of 4.3%.

Australian Retailers Association director Russell Zimmerman said department stores were the big winners.

“Department store growth in 2015 was mostly underwhelming, so to see this result will be heartening for David Jones and Myer, who have both placed an incredible amount of effort into reinvigorating their businesses,” he said.

However, he also warned overall retail recorded the lowest year-on-year growth in two and a half years.

“While we saw a strong Christmas and January sales period, spending growth always tends to slow in February, which has clearly been the case this year.

“A combination of warmer weather patterns across most states, a pull back in spending as consumers headed back to work and school, as well as economic uncertainty have contributed to this outcome,” he said.

“We anticipate 2016 will be a year of mixed fortunes, with uncertain economic conditions, an election on the horizon, and an unpredictable Australian dollar all contributing to the current landscape."

YEAR ON YEAR RETAIL GROWTH (February 2015 to February 2016 seasonally adjusted)

By category:

Food, 2.4 percent; household goods, 4.3 percent; clothing, footwear and personal accessories, 6.3 percent; department stores, 6.6 percent; other retailing, 2.9 percent; cafés, restaurants and takeaway foods, 1.6 percent.

By state:

NSW, 4.6 percent; Victoria, 4.7 percent; Queensland, 1.2 percent; South Australia, 2.7 percent; Western Australia, -0.1 percent; Tasmania, 3.1 percent; Northern Territory, 0.6 percent; and Australian Capital Territory, 7.2 percent.

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