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The NRA Calls For Government Help After Poor March Sales

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By Published On: May 8, 20180 Comments

According to the ABS’ Retail Trade report for March 2018, retail turnover stalled for the month, with the exception of online trade and food. These results emphasise the need for greater government support, the NRA says.

The report revealed a disappointing month in sales, with a seasonally adjusted figure of 0.0 percent. The National Retail Association’s CEO, Dominique Lamb, believes this is another example of the retail industry’s modest start to 2018.

“The March figures represent a stall in retail sales with all industries recording a drop in turnover other than food retailing,” Lamb said.

“At a state level, the news was also fairly disappointing with half the states and territories recording declining sales. This is very sobering news for retailers across the country and again highlights the modest start to 2018 that the sector is experiencing.”

In March, food retailing grew by 4.17 percent year-on-year, which was boosted by specialised food, liquor and supermarkets, all of which experienced positive growth for the month.

Every other category, including the likes of household goods, department stores, clothing and footwear all experienced declining sales in March, although only marginally.

E-commerce was one of the only areas to show improvements year-on-year, which helped soften the blow of slow in-store March sales.

“Online sales turnover did represent some positive news, however, with a total turnover of 5.1 percent, up from 3.7 percent 12 months ago,” Lamb said.

According to Lamb, this report is a timely reminder that the government’s federal budget, which is due to be released later today, should provide support for the retail sector’s struggling businesses.

“While the NRA is certainly not hitting the panic button just yet, this is a timely reminder of the need for governments to put into place measures that support retail, Lamb said. “The retail sector is one of the largest employers of Australians and is most readily able to respond to government efforts to increase training or employment.

Lamb also called into question the lack of a dedicated minister or department at both state and federal levels, claiming more should be done for an industry that asks for so little.

“Measures such as cuts to personal and company tax, along with an extension to the instant asset write off for small businesses, would go a long way to boosting the Australian retail sector,” she said.

Russell Zimmerman, the executive director of the Australian Retail Association (ARA) holds similar sentiments, as he believes retailers need to see stronger results in an increasingly uncertain market.

“With Easter trade being early, we would have hoped to see strong growth in department stores and clothing, footwear and personal accessories,” Zimmerman said. “However, instead we have lost ground in these categories at a time when they should be thriving.”

In a press release earlier today, the ARA said it’s hoping to see a focus in personal and company tax cuts in the 2018 federal budget, “to ensure retailers across the country can invest in their businesses and grow employment within the sector”. The association is also hoping to see stronger sales moving forward.

“We are hoping to see localised growth across most retail categories come July, with the commencement of GST collection for overseas goods,” Zimmerman said.

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