Can consumers give retailers the boost they need?

While the retail sector is the most trusted industry, retailers still need a consumer confidence boost, says Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director, Russell Zimmerman.

According to the latest figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), July was average, with a 2.89 per cent total growth year-on-year.

“Retail can only survive with increased business and consumer confidence,” he says. “And this confidence is driven by personal tax cuts and a strong and stable government.”

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO, Dominique Lamb, adds that it is important that consumer confidence is restored as the sector prepares to head into the Christmas trade period.

“There’s no need to hit the panic button just yet, but the July figures released by the ABS are certainly very ordinary,” says Lamb.

“Retail had enjoyed three consecutive months of growth, so it is very disappointing to see the figures flatline for July.

“Consumer confidence is a little fragile at present, so the NRA would urge the RBA to keep interest rates low for the time being.

“Within the next six months there are state elections in both Victoria and New South Wales, not to mention a federal poll also taking place between now and May 2019. We know people spend less during election periods due to the uncertainty, so we can’t get complacent with the Christmas trade period just around the corner,” she says.

With retailers facing increased overheads, the ARA saw clothing, footwear and personal accessories suffer a low year-on-year growth of 2.74 per cent.

“July is always a tough month for fashion retailers because their winter stock slows down and their summer stock hasn’t had enough time to gain traction.

“This July we saw Clothing retail reach a 4.10 per cent growth year-on-year, compared to a 7.35 per cent increase received in June. Further to this, we saw Footwear and personal accessories post a -0.02 per cent decline in July compared to the 1.05 per cent increase this category received in June.”

Moving forward, the ARA would like to see external factors put out of mind for retailers, who are hoping for a consumer confidence boost to assist with sales.