Food retail sales seen up leading into crucial holiday period

Posted by Editorial on 7th January 2010

Retail sales rose a further 1.4 per cent in November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported today, with ‘food retail’ (+1.6%) and ‘cafes, restaurants & takeaway food services’ (+1.1%) both performing similarly to the broader retail market.

Supermarket aisle - shopping trolley

The strong figures surprised analysts, who were expecting a figure closer to 0.4% or o.5%.

“The strong November retail figures shows spending may be starting to realign with consumer confidence,” Margy Osmond, CEO of retail industry body ANRA, said today. “Up until now we’ve seen confidence lift and yet spending has remained patchy. This result indicates the sector entered the Christmas period with the engine revving and potentially gathering momentum.

“However, it’s clear that the full impact of the two rate rises is only partially captured in these numbers. There is a lag effect; it can take several months for the impact to filter through to shoppers’ purses and pockets.”

ANRA, which represents large retailers including supermarket chains Coles, Woolworths and Franklins, said their members had reported strong sales over Christmas and New Year “but not spectacular”. Results on a sector by sector basis had been patchy, the industry group advised, and shopper habits and behaviours are “going against the trends of only a few years ago”.