January’s Retail Trade “Modest” Improvement on December

April Davis By April Davis | 07 Mar 2019

According to the latest retail turnover figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) January saw mixed results, with online retail trade remaining steady.

In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian retail turnover rose by 0.1 percent in January, a marked improvement from December’s 0.4 percent drop.

E-commerce revenue remained steady for the month, contributing to 5.6 percent of total retail turnover for the month in original terms, which is unchanged from December 2018. This is an improvement YOY, as online sales in January 2018 only contributed 4.7 percent to total retail.

Russell Zimmerman, the executive director of the Australian Retailers Association said in a statement that the 2.66 percent total growth YOY was a modest result for post-Christmas.

“As we forecasted a 3.1 percent increase in post-Christmas trade and predicted Australians would spend almost $18.3 billion from December 26, 2018 to January 15, 2019, today’s figures are slightly less than what we anticipated,” he said.

Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retailers Association has also had a reserved response to the results, saying January’s results are an improvement on December, but hardly “ground-breaking”.

“The ABS data for January 2019 is modest overall, however, it is a significant improvement on the December 2018 results,” Lamb said.

“While January hasn’t proved to be a ground-breaking month by any stretch, on the plus side it does indicate that retail is slowly picking itself up and heading in the right direction.

This comes after NAB released its January Online Retail Sales Index on Wednesday, recording a -0.5 percent month-on-month contraction in January, following on from a -1.9 percent contraction in December 2018.

According to NAB, the combined drop in revenue in December and January has “resulted in almost no growth from the past three months”, even after recording a strong November.

On a state-by-state basis, NSW reportedly had the highest YOY growth at 9.2 percent followed closely by Victoria (8.7 percent) and Western Australia at 8.1 percent.

In the 12-months to January, NAB estimates that Australians spent $28.8 billion on online retail, equivalent to approximately nine percent of total bricks-and-mortar retail spend for the year.

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