Food retail turnover drops for first time in five months

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 1st April 2009

Retail turnover declined in the month of February in all sectors, after rises in the previous two months as retail sales defied the downturn with the help of a robust food sector.

Retail industry body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), believes the negative two per cent growth in retail turnover for February is reflective of a traditionally difficult time of year for retailers.

ARA Executive Director Richard Evans said the retail sector has been retracting since coming off the peak of the retail cycle last year but retailers remained cautiously optimistic about improved growth in the September quarter as long as employment levels remained under six per cent.

“While families deal with back to school costs and hangover credit card bills from Christmas, February is always the hardest month for retailers and the negative growth reflected normal consumer behaviour at this time of year,” he explained. “The drop in food retailing (-0.4 per cent) and cafes, restaurants and takeaways (-1.3 per cent) also reflects the end of Christmas celebrations.”

The fall in food retail turnover, on seasonally adjusted terms, represented the first such drop since September.