Retail sales slide, in a blow to freight volume recovery

<font color=red><b>THE RECOVERY:</b></font> Retail sales slid in December, with weak performance from department stores

February 4, 2009

Retail sales slid in December, with weak performance from department stores dragging sales down 0.7 percent nation-wide.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data is a blow to the retail sector and its suppliers, after a promising rebound of 1.5 percent in November.

Sales fell nationally, in seasonally adjusted terms, across four retail industry groups: department stores (-3.5 percent), clothing, footwear and other personal accessory retailing (-1.9 percent), food retailing (-1.3 percent) and household goods retailing (-0.3 percent).

Meanwhile, sales rose in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.5 percent) and 'other retailing' remained flat.

Australian Retailers Association Director Russell Zimmerman says although the December quarter was up 1.1 percent, it is "extremely disheartening" to have a fall over the month.

"Retail trade for December 2009 confirmed retailers are still posting inconsistent growth and the RBA did the right thing by keeping interest rates on hold," he says.

"Retailers are now calling on Fair Work Australia to be mindful of any unnecessary wage bill pressures when they start their minimum wage review next month for retailers who are yet to fully recover from the impact of the economic downturn."

According to the ABS, in seasonally adjusted volume terms, retail turnover rose 1.1 percent in the December quarter 2009.

This compares with a fall of 0.7 percent in the September quarter 2009.

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