Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing turnover declined 0.8% in October, according to new statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

This result follows a 0.5% decline for the sector in September. 

Overall, retail turnover remained unchanged (0.0%) in October after experiencing a 0.2% increase in September. 

Online retail turnover contributed 6.5% to total retail turnover in October – 0.6% higher than its contribution in October 2018. 

ABS director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James said that food and restaurant retailing helped to offset the declines in other sectors. 

"There were falls for clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.8%), department stores (-0.8%) and household goods (-0.2%).

"These falls were offset by rises in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.4%) and food retailing (0.1%). Other retailing was relatively unchanged (0.0%)," he said. 

Geographically, Victoria (-0.4%), New South Wales (-0.2%) and South Australia (-0.5%) all declined, while Queensland (0.4%), Tasmania (1.4%), the Northern Territory (2.3%), Western Australia (0.2%) and the Australian Capital Territory (0.3%) rose in October. 

National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said that the results show that 2019 is still proving to be a trying time for retail. 

"Despite tax cuts and interest rate drops, the figures show that consumer confidence has remained low. 

"The good news though is that feedback we have received so far is that the Christmas trade period is acting as the circuit breaker needed to turn things around." 

Lamb added that despite the ABS results, Black Friday proved to be a significant day of spending for Aussie consumers. 

"Aussie shoppers splurged a record $5 billion as retailers offered bargain prices. 

"For the first time ever, Black Friday was the busiest day of the year for online spend, demonstrating that the event is picking up more momentum each year.

"Discretionary spending has been the big issue in 2019, but with shoppers descending on shopping centres for Black Friday, feedback has been that people have finally unlocked the padlock on their wallets or purses.

"Early signs are that the slow retail sales experienced for much of 2019 has not transitioned into the Christmas period," she said.

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