Australian retailers have welcomed the Reserve Bank’s decision to hold interests rates this
month but have called for industry to be shown some love after record-low Christmas sales.

Governor Michele Bullock raised interest rates to 4.35 per cent just before the Black Friday
and Cyber Monday sales to put a squeeze on consumer spending in December.

National Retail Association Deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll has called for the Reserve Bank to
move up is timeline for rate cuts, so retailers have a better chance of surviving the year.

“Retailers are struggling to keep up with business costs after a failed festive spending
season, which had the biggest bargains seen industry wide,” Ms Carroll said.

“The 2.7 per cent drop in December sales month-on-month, as revealed by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics, is a testament to how effective the rate rises have been.

“Food courts look deserted, and retailers have had to refinance and close some of their
doors. If the industry doesn’t get an indication of some relief soon, it may be in crisis.

“While economists predict an interest rate cut around May, we urge the Reserve Bank to
bring that forward and soften its policy outlook so we can get consumer spending moving
again,” she said.

The Government’s reworked stage three tax cuts have been introduced to Parliament today
and if passed will see low to middle income Australians benefit the most.

“We can assume the Government’s proposed stage three tax cuts are likely to modestly
improve consumer sentiment among a majority of Australians, but we won’t see the effects
of these cuts for a while,” she said.

“Retailers are reliant on the Reserve Bank to improve consumer spending and set a better
tone for the year since this is the only source of income for many business owners.

“We need more than a hold on current rates, we need consumers back in stores bringing life
back to the retail sector.”

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, phone the National Retail Association media unit on 0467 792 013.