Mixed results across industries resulted in retail turnover declining by 0.1% in April 2019 (seasonally adjusted), according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
This decline follows a 0.3% lift in retail turnover in March.
ABS director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben Faulkner said that the falls in some industries were balanced out by rises in others.
"There were mixed results across industries. Falls in Household goods retailing (down 0.9%), Cafes, restaurant and takeaway food services (declined 0.7%), and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (down 1.2%), were offset by rises in Other retailing (up 0.8%), Department stores (increased 1.8%), and Food retailing (up 0.2%)."
Geographically, New South Wales (-0.4%), Victoria (-0.4%), the Northern Territory (-0.5%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.2%) all fell in April, while Queensland (0.7%), South Australia (0.6%), Western Australia (0.1%) and Tasmania (0.3%) all rose in the month.
National Retail Associaion (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said that the results show a need to push the promised tax cuts through to give consumers some money to spend.
"The ABS figures for April paint a sombre picture and demonstrate the need to boost Australians’ disposable incomes.
"The Government went to the election promising tax cuts and has a mandate. The plunge in retail sales show the urgent need to put more money in the back pocket of all Australians.
"Retailers want to see both sides of politics put their squabbling to one side and to work together to deliver tax cuts that will benefit both households and businesses," she said.
Despite the sluggish month-on-month results, the executive director of the Australian Retailers Associaion (ARA) Russell Zimmerman said that the year-on-year growth is still looking positive.
"The ABS retail trade figures were disappointing overall for April, coming off 3.51% year-on-year growth for March.
"[However] it was pleasing to see department stores experience year-on-year growth of 2.65%, which is the strongest growth seen this year."
Clothing, footwear and accessories were up 4.04% in year-on-year terms, while Department stores increased by 2.65% year-on-year according to the ARA's stats.
Online retailing contribued 5.7% to the total retail turnover in April (original terms), the same contribution it made in March. In April 2018, online retail contributed 5.4% to total retail.