According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, total retail sales for this April came in at 23.24 billion.
The results give Australian retail its longest sustained period of growth in seven years, with incremental sales increases for nine straight months.
This is a stark contrast to media sources and analysts’ reliance on the month on month figures, which mean very little to retailers.
Month on month turnover for April 2014 grew 0.2 per cent compared to March 2014.
The doom and gloom attitude generated in mass media by looking at only the March 2014 to April 2014 comparison does nothing to encourage consumers or retailers themselves, and may in fact be doing more harm than good.
A six per cent increase on the same period last year for retail turnover, off the back of several consecutive months of year on year growth is a very positive outcome for an industry which has seen four years of declining or stagnant trade.
The biggest contributor to the rise was department stores, which saw 2.9 per cent growth in April month on month, followed by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, with 0.5 per cent growth. food retailing and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing both rose by 0.2 per cent, while household goods retailing fell by one per cent, and other retailing 0.2 per cent.
Year on year food is up 6.8 per cent compared to April last year and non-food is up 4.4 per cent.
On a state by state basis, was the standout. The Northern Territory grew 0.5 per cent; Tasmania, 0.4 per cent; and NSW and South Australia, 0.1 per cent.
Falls were recoding in the ACT of 0.8 per cent, Queensland had a 0.3 per cent decline, and Western Australia, 0.1 per cent.
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO, Trevor Evans, said it was surprising to see such positive results for April, given the month included two long weekends, which usually means less trade.
“The results for April are a welcome continuation of a modest growth trend we’ve seen uninterrupted in every month since this government took office, and it’s especially encouraging to see growth in a month which contained consecutive long weekends,” Evans said.
“Continued gains, while off a low base, is a good sign the Australian retail industry is recovering, but the momentum is still extremely fragile and completely dependent on consumer confidence.
“We already know May was more challenging than April so we’re expecting the see a short term dint in retail trade when the ABS release those figures next month.”