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Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the trading period of February 2018 have been highlighted by a jump in strength of retail sales for the fashion industry.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said that he believes most of the growth came from a late spending spree in back-to-school trade.

“The strongest retail category in February was clothing, footwear and personal accessories (4.85%) as Australians had a slow start to summer this year.

“With the clothing category receiving a 6.58% year-on-year increase – the best growth its seen since December 2016 – it's fair to say consumer wanted to buy those last summer garments before the winter stock hit the shelves.”

The fashion industry saw a monthly retail growth increase of 1.09% from January. The report also showed a 4.51% year-on-year growth in online retail.

While the statistics suggested a positive trend for fashion retail, Zimmerman said that the biggest challenge facing retailers was escalating rent and energy prices.

“Although this growth is the biggest year-on-year growth we have seen since July last year, retailers are still struggling with escalating rental prices and high energy costs.

“We need to ensure the government focuses on reducing the company tax rate to ensure retailers can hit their targets, employ more staff and sustain growth for the overall economy.”

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