Desperate retail business owners are urging the Reserve Bank to release the handbrake on the economy, after the November retail trade figures showed the Melbourne Cup Day rates hike stopped spending in its tracks.

Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) today revealed spending in November, which has traditionally been the strongest month for retail, grew by just 2.2 per cent compared with last year.

National Retail Association Director Rob Godwin said when inflation and population growth were taken into account, the figure represented a reduction in real terms.

“These are disappointing figures given the growth of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales events in recent years,” Mr Godwin said.

“The Reserve Bank said they wanted to squeeze spending. Well, spending has been well and truly squeezed.

“We predict the first quarter of 2024 is going to be the most challenging quarter for businesses in many years.

“For the sake of business owners and their employees, we are urging the Reserve Bank to start cutting interest rates again,” he said.

Shoppers seem to have waited for the pre-Christmas sales event to catchup on shopping for household essentials, with household goods retailing having risen by a surprising 7.5 per cent.

“Department store sales increased by 4.2 per cent followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, which rose by only 2.7 per cent,” he said.

“CBD shopping centres were flooded with people taking advantage of the heavy discounts on offer in November, which slightly benefitted cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services with sales having increased by 0.4 per cent.

“South Australia experienced the largest increase in retail sales of 2.8 per cent followed by Victoria, which rose by 2.4 per cent while Queensland experienced a 2.2 per cent sales increase.”

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.