October trade figures are in: and there's proof retail spending is increasing in time for Christmas

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today reported an increase of 0.3 per cent in total sales nationwide during October, seasonally adjusted – up from the 0.1 per cent result in September.

The ABS reported that clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing recorded the strongest result, with growth of 2.6 per cent. Year-on-year, it grew a whopping 4.84%.

Household goods (0.6 per cent), the “other retailing” category (0.5 per cent), department stores (0.4 per cent) and food retailing (0.2 per cent) also enjoyed increases from September to October.

The only category to fall was cafes, restaurants and takeaway food, which was down by 0.9 per cent.

National Retail Association (NRA) deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll said while the result did not show a booming retail sector, the increase from September was encouraging as businesses geared up for Christmas.

“Retail business owners rely very heavily on the pre-Christmas and Boxing Day sales periods to sustain them during the quieter parts of the year,” Carroll said.

“This is also the time when the retail sector is able to create additional jobs or provide more hours to existing workers. That can only happen if the cash registers are ringing in the leadup to Christmas.

“So although we would ideally like to see monthly increases of 0.4 or even 0.5 per cent, we welcome the fact that these numbers are trending in the right direction as we head towards Christmas.”

Queensland and the ACT were the strongest performing jurisdictions, with increases of 1.1 per cent. Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory (0.6 per cent), and South Australia and Tasmania all experienced growth. New South Wales recorded a fall in turnover of 0.4 per cent.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Russell Zimmerman predicted retailers can expect to see a busy Christmas.

“As we lead into Christmas, October is the third consecutive month with year-on-year growth topping 3.5%,"  Zimmerman 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 Christmas.”

The Other retailing category saw the strongest year-on-year growth at 5.50%, with consumers turning to online platforms to purchase gifts for the big day.

“With the warm weather ramping up, we have noticed a considerable increase in the apparel category with shoppers purchasing fashion and accessories to wear for the warmer months ahead," Zimmerman said.

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