Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing declined by 0.5% in September according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

This decline follows a 1.8% increase for the sector in August. 

Overall, retail turnover rose 0.2% in September on a seasonally adjusted basis. 

Online retail turnover contributed 6.3% to total retail turnover in original terms in September. In September 2018 online retail contributed 5.6% to total retail. 

ABS director os quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James said that the retail industry experienced varied results in September. 

"There was a mix of results at the industry level this month.

"Rises were seen in other retailing (0.8%), cafes, restaurants and takeaway services (0.6%), and food retailing (0.1%).

"These rises were slightly offset by a fall in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-0.5%) and department stores (-0.2%). Household goods (0.0%) was relatively unchanged," he said. 

Geographically, there were rises in New South Wales (0.3%), Western Australia (0.7%), Tasmania (1.0%), South Australia (0.2%), the Australian Capital Territory (0.1%) and the Northern Territory (0.1%).

Victoria (0.0%) was unchanged while Queensland (-0.1%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in September 2019.

National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said that the organisation was hoping for stronger September results. 

"Measures such as tax cuts and reductions to interest rates have already been implemented, but clearly we’re still yet to see retail sales rebound like we would have hoped. 

"Options that should be explored to stimulate sales include fast-tracking tax cuts due to come into effect in the coming years, government spending and even a further cut by the RBA to the cash rate.

"In the meantime, the NRA certainly urges consumers to not shy away from spending any spare change they have at the shops.

"In particular, it’s important to back local small businesses who really find it challenging when economic growth stalls," she said. 

Despite these results, Lamb said that there are still opportunities for retailers to garner strong sales during the festive season. 

"Moving forward we have several big sales events such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday coming up this month, and of course we’re about to enter the busy Christmas trade period. 

"Shoppers should keep an eye out for bargain sales as retailers try to entice customers to open their wallets.

"Christmas is an important time of the year for retail and many smaller operators rely on strong sales in the festive season to sustain their business throughout quieter parts of the year.

"A poor Christmas period for retail will have a knock-on effect to other parts of the economy, so we encourage shoppers to indulge in some retail therapy between now and the end of the year," she said. 

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