Stable interest rates, higher wages, and the anticipation of energy subsidies and tax cuts from the Federal Budget encouraged consumers to seize early end-of-financial-year sales in May.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) May trade figures reveal that retail sales increased by 0.6 per cent month-on-month, and 1.7 per cent year-on-year.

National Retail Association Interim CEO Lindsay Carroll said the sales boost was a welcome change to what has otherwise been a grim year for retail.

“We’re pleased to see that consumer confidence is beginning to stabilise, we just hope the Reserve Bank won’t jump on these positive figures as a reason to raise interest rates again,” Ms Carroll said.

“On the back of early end-of-financial year promotions, clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing had the largest rise of 1.6 per cent.

“Retail turnover rose for most states and territories with Victoria and Western Australia experiencing the largest trade increase of 1.2 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

“These early promotions and sales follow the same trend we saw in November last year, when retailers offered large Black Friday sales four weeks out from the actual shopping event.

“While the sales boost is a positive indicator for consumer sentiment, it doesn’t change the desperate landscape retail business owners are currently facing,” she said.

According to the ABS, despite the overall boost in retail trade, department store sales fell by 0.9 per cent.

“The economic headwinds retailers are up against have only gotten worse following a 3.75 per cent increase to modern award minimum wages.

“Retailers cannot continue to rely on heavy discounting strategies to keep their businesses afloat, and the Reserve Bank must take these factors into consideration when they meet in August.

“We hope policymakers will steady their hand at the next Reserve Bank meeting and see the value in sustaining Australia’s second-largest employer.”


The National Retail Association represents more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, contact the National Retail Association media unit on 0467 792 013.