Cost of living crunch causes a slow start for retail spending

The Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade figures released today reveal a spending increase of 1.9 per cent, as Aussie consumers reel in their spending to manage the cost of living crisis.

National Retail Association CEO Greg Griffith said the slow start to the year was expected as the impact of rising interest rates adds further strain to household budgets, and the 1.9 per cent increase is attributable to the higher costs shoppers are seeing in stores.

“January typically is one of the most seasonal months for retailers, and while growth for the month reflects a small increase, spending has grown by 7.5 per cent compared to this time last year.

“As families returned to work and school in the new year department stores showed the largest growth of more than 8 per cent following a slow festive period, with food retailing increasing by only 0.3 per cent.

“While spending would have been slightly higher in January, we think it’s more likely that we’re seeing inflated costs hidden in the data, rather than volumes,” he said.

Mr Griffith suggested that retail growth has remained steady over the past year.

“Retailers and shoppers are balancing their needs with economic uncertainty as best as they can, and the data reflects that.

“The retail sector has bunkered down for slow spending from this month onwards until inflation is tipped to decline later this year.

“With the string of interest rate rises that will continue in the months, we will likely see retailers pass on their increased costs on to consumers,” he said.

Mr. Griffith emphasised that retailers are dealing with a myriad of issues unique to the sector.

“Adding further to the strain, we are still faced with a labour shortage and have seen a drastic increase in retail crime across the country. These issues all contribute to the squeeze on retail spend and growth,” he said.

Retailers needing support to navigate increasing costs, staff shortages, retail crime and other issues including the single-use plastic bans can call the NRA hotline on 1800 RETAIL.

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

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