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Retail turnover bounces back post-election

Busy shopping centre

Australia’s retail sector saw a rise in almost every category in June, fresh ABS figures showed, with the sector shrugging off an almost stagnant result in May.

Turnover increased by 0.4 per cent for the month – a substantial rise on the 0.1 per cent rise seen in May, the same month in which the federal election was held.

“There were rises in five of the six industries this month,” said Ben James, director of quarterly economy-wide surveys at the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

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Mr James said turnover rose in the following categories covered by the ABS:

  • Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (up by 2.0 per cent)
  • “Other” retailing (up 0.6 per cent)
  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway services (up 0.5 per cent)
  • Household goods retailing (up 0.2 per cent)
  • Food retailing (up 0.1 per cent)

The department stores group was the only retail sector to see spending go backwards for the month, said Mr James, with turnover pulling back by 0.6 per cent.

Despite the positive result for the retail industry, Mr James cautioned against being overly optimistic, stating that “overall, the retail environment remains subdued”.

The stronger June result helped lift the quarterly growth figure to a 0.2 per cent increase, reversing the modest 0.1 per cent fall in retail turnover that had been recorded in the March 2019 quarter.

How the states fared

It was quite a mixed bag of results when breaking down the figures for each state and territory.

The ABS recorded a substantial rise in Tasmania of 1.5 per cent – the only state or territory to post a rise in turnover of more than 1 per cent.

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Western Australia was the next best performer, with turnover lifting by 0.8 per cent.

In Queensland, retailers reported an increase of 0.4 per cent, while NSW, Victoria and the ACT all saw a 0.3 per cent rise.

Retail turnover eased in both South Australia and the Northern Territory, down by 0.3 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively.

Other tentatively positive signs for the economy

The news comes just as separate figures from CoreLogic suggested that Australia’s property market may be turning a corner, with home values increasing in five of the eight capital cities in June – on the back of sustained falls in the rate of price declines observed throughout the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, Australia’s inflation rate has also seen upward momentum, the ABS revealed, although much of its rise was attributed to soaring petrol prices.

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Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016. 

The two-time Publish Awards finalist has an extensive journalistic career across business, property and finance, including a four-year stint in the UK. Email Adam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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