Media Release: Statement re November Retail Figures

09 January 2012

Today’s data again highlights the nature of our patchwork economy, with retail sales in Western Australia and Queensland growing strongly and modest increases across every other state except Victoria.

This comes on top of four consecutive monthly increases in the value of retail trade up to October, and today’s result for November continues that trend for most Australian states.

We’ve also seen two interest rate cuts in November and December which mean a family with a $300,000 mortgage is paying around $250 a month or $3,000 a year less than when Labor was elected.

However, today’s data also reflects ongoing consumer caution against a backdrop of global economic volatility, and many Australians taking advantage of the higher dollar to travel and buy goods from overseas.

The story of the cautious consumer in these latest retail figures is evident. Since the GFC households are saving more and borrowing less.

In periods of economic uncertainty it’s normal for families to hold on to existing goods for longer than they otherwise might – items like TVs, lounges, white goods, clothes and accessories– that behaviour can be expected.

So some sectors in our patchwork economy are still facing headwinds amid global volatility and a higher dollar, but the two most recent interest rate cuts we’ve seen will continue to provide some support.

For retailers who are feeling the pinch or have views on public policies - the new Retail Council announced by this Government will give the industry an important advisory and consultation body to go to.

The Government remains committed to the retail industry, small and large businesses, as a creator of national wealth and a very significant employer of many Australians. Australia’s solid economic fundamentals mean we’re well positioned for the future – with solid growth, low unemployment, rising incomes, contained inflation, strong public finances, a huge pipeline of investment and a proven track record of dealing with global instability.