February saw a vast improvement on last year’s retail performance, with every sector showing up to 14 per cent positive growth Australia wide. The general sector including pet stores, electronics, and gifts showed the greatest improvement on last year, closely followed by the sporting sector and fashion and accessories sectors.
Almost every state was in the green, with the sporting sector leading in Queensland with 9.7 per cent growth on last year. NSW and Victoria showed exceptional growth in the general category with 26 per cent and 19 per cent growth respectively. Other states experienced a varied month, with the ACT seeing an almost 21 per cent drop in furniture.
With increased spending across Australia, it comes as no surprise that spending on credit also increased from 53.7 per cent to 56 per cent this February, with Victoria and Western Australia leading the way. The number of items purchased in one transaction and the average basket size also increased significantly across all sectors this February compared with last.
As expected however, February compared with January this year was down 15 per cent overall with the greatest drop coming from the furniture sector at a little over 23 per cent.
One on One with Leisure Shoe Boutique CEO and founder, Michael Brown
1. Tell us about your retail sales over the past two weeks
I have six active stores and I relocated one to an area with less competition so it has gone up by 12 per cent. I also opened additional stores so despite the other static stores going down by around 10 per cent, I’m up overall. We had an unusually hot February and due to our seasonal category within fashion, selling mostly summer sale stock in February is not common practice. By now, we’re usually selling full priced Autumn stock.
2. What’s your biggest operational challenge at the moment?
Over the past five years, I’ve constantly been working on better product, better people and better promotion. For us, our greatest challenge is promotion and marketing. When you have a great product and a great team, you open your doors and are at the mercy of a lot of things out of your control. The concept of great marketing is attempting to influence and control your market and build your brand. As a small business, investing enough money in the right marketing platforms can be difficult.
3. What’s working really well for operations?
I’m very proud of our team and I have staff who have been with me for many years. I consider the footwear industry as one of the last full service industries. You go into most retail stores and you have the ability to try on and purchase items without the assistance of a sales person. However, it the footwear industry, consumers are dependent on the staff to facilitate that buying experience. For this reason, I’m very proud of our exceptional team in continuing to provide that positive purchasing experience for our customers.
4. What are you most concerned about in retail in the short-term future?
Consumer confidence. Even though people can’t (usually) make their own shoes, they shift their purchasing when times are tough. People will always look good, but spend less dollars overall. Australians can be quite hyper sensitive to economic shifts so if there is a minor trigger, spending decreases dramatically. And as a result, many businesses can go from healthy to marginal in a heart beat.
5. What are you looking forward to this year for your business or your sector?
We grew 30 per cent last year so I’m looking forward to continuing our growth. I’m also looking forward to sharpening our digital marketing tool kit but paper still has its place and we’re looking to do our first ever catalogue for our customers, coming out soon.
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