Retail sales remained flat in November, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, after increases of 0.2% and 0.3% in October and September respectively.
“Australian retail turnover was relatively unchanged (0.0%) in November 2011, seasonally adjusted, following a rise of 0.2% the previous month,” the ABS said in a statement.
“Turnover rose in Queensland (0.5%), New South Wales (0.3%), Western Australia (0.8%), South Australia (0.2%), Tasmania (0.4%) and the Northern Territory (0.4%).
“Turnover fell in Victoria (-1.1%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-1.9%).”
With regard to retail categories, the trend estimate for food retailing rose 0.4% in November, the ABS figures reveal.
The trend estimate rose for supermarkets and grocery stores (0.3%) and liquor retailing (0.7%), but fell for other specialised food retailing (-0.6%).
According to the ABS, household goods retailing rose 0.6% in November, as did cafés, restaurants and takeaways.
“The trend estimate rose for electrical and electronic goods retailing (0.7%), hardware, building and garden supplies retailing (0.5%) and furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing,” it said.
Meanwhile, department stores fell 0.2% while clothing, footwear and accessories fell 0.1% in trend terms, according to the figures.
“The trend estimate fell for footwear and other personal accessory retailing (-0.1%) and rose for clothing retailing (0.1%),” the ABS said.
The news comes after the Australian Retailers Association called on the Federal and state governments to “carefully consider” the impacts of taxes ahead of their annual budgets.
“There are sections of the Australian economy under significant pressure and retail is one of them,” ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said in a statement.
“Government can relieve that pressure by not just holding off on taxation, charges and excise increases outside inflation but also by cutting the burden on consumers and retailers.”
“ARA is urging government to do its bit not to increase the cost of living through additional taxes and charges as Federal and state budget considerations commence.”
Zimmerman said ultimately, a business needs to make money before it pays tax.
“To make money, it is vital for consumers to have money in their pockets to spend,” he said.
“The ARA is seeing the retail sector undergoing significant structural change and, at the same time, is being hit by declining consumer confidence.”
“With the sector vulnerable, now is not the time for governments to undertake tax grabs or impose sneaky revenue hikes through changes or excise increases above the inflation rate.”
“ARA is urging government not to offset spending by taking money out of a struggling private sector or hit consumer confidence.”