Retail Improves in 2014

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Monday, March 10, 2014

The retail figures for the start of 2014 appear to bode well for the entire sector, with some segments doing better than others as has always been typical, but developed countries that derive a significant portion of GDP from retail activities find the news of a sustained economic recovery encouraging.

Compared to the same period in 2013, sales are up by 6.2 percent.

These figures come from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and would seem to be as objective as one could expect from an agency of this type.

Some significant variations in performance in some sectors is cause for concern, at least for those directly impacted, but the National Retail Association naturally presents the most positive outlook possible.

The clothing and footwear segments, along with personal accessories and food showed rather modest gains, but it has been department stores, dining and takeaway food purveyors have done most of the heavy lifting that has contributed to the encouraging growth figures. Since these categories of spending rely mainly on discretionary spending, growth in these areas in particularly well perceived.

Geographically, New South Wales seems to be toward the front of the pack, reporting growth of 2.1 percent. The Northern Territory, Tasmania, Queensland, Victoria and South Australia were in positive territory, ranging from 3.3 to 0.6 percent. The Australia Capital Territory and Western Australia were something of a drag on the overall results, posting negative number of -1.9 and -0.3 percent respectively.

It may be too soon to become completely gung-ho over what these latest figures imply for the long term. They could be characterised as indicating that the prevailing sentiment is one of cautious optimism, with the potential of unforeseen events to bring things to a screeching halt.

It would seem as though the RBA’s decision to not monkey with rates was a welcome example of lucidity. Retailers would seem to favour staying the current course regarding future monetary policy decisions.

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