Trevor Queen Street

Happy New Year. I trust you have had a prosperous end to 2015 and a positive start to 2016. Anecdotal feedback from members suggests to us that the Christmas and Boxing Day sales periods were generally strong.

Based on the November sales data released by the Bureau of Statistics today, and the modelling done by the NRA’s in-house research team, we believe 2015 will prove to have been the most successful year for retail since the GFC.

The ABS reported growth of 4.1 per cent, in trend terms, for the month of November compared with the previous year’s result.

The Bureau found that consumer spending grew by 0.4 per cent compared with the previous month, in both trend and seasonally adjusted terms. Turnover rose across all major categories, including Department stores (0.6%), household goods (0.6%), food retailing (0.3 per cent), cafes, restaurants and takeaways (0.2%), and clothing, footwear and personal accessories (0.2%).

Victoria was the strongest performing state, with monthly growth of 0.6 per cent, followed by Tasmania (0.5%), New South Wales (0.4%), South Australia (0.3%), and Queensland, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory (all 0.2%).

When the December figures are released in a month’s time, we are expecting to see growth approaching six per cent.  This means that 2015 will be easily the strongest year since the 7.9 per cent growth recorded in 2007.

This is largely due to stronger consumer confidence, strong property values, low interest rates and a more encouraging political and economic environment as 2015 transpired.

I always qualify these kinds of figures by acknowledging that economic growth is never uniform – it can vary from state to state and among retail sub-sectors. However, overall strong growth in spending is always good news, and in this case it’s a trend we hope will continue throughout 2016.

As the frantic pace that marks the start of a new calendar year for many retailers begins to abate, you will no doubt turn your thoughts to the year ahead, and to planning for the ongoing operation and growth of your business.  As you work through your planning processes for the year, I remind you of the importance of investing in your people – both at the customer service level and also in management.

The NRA’s training and development team can help provide specialist professional development for you and your personnel, regardless of the size of the business. This can be delivered in a range of flexible ways at locations across the country. If you are considering investing in the ongoing development of your team members, click here to have a look at the ways in which the NRA can help you.