In a sample poll on the My Business website, which received 154 responses, close to two-thirds (65.6 per cent) of business owners said they are not expecting higher trade this year compared with last.
The picture is much rosier for around one in four businesses (24.7 per cent) who are expecting higher trade, while the remaining 9.7 per cent admit they remain unsure either way.
The poll reflects official retail figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), which show retail turnover unchanged in September, following a 0.5 per cent fall the previous month.
Interestingly, despite profit downgrades from Myer and negative commentary about their prospects, department stores have posted the biggest increase in September. Growth is up 2.1 per cent in the month.
Food retailing (up 0.6 per cent) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway providers (up 0.3 per cent) are the only other industry sectors to post an increase.
September has capped off a disappointing quarter for Australian retailers, with spending up by the slightest of margins (0.1 per cent) – well short of the 1.5 per cent increase in the June quarter.