Australian retail sales fell 0.7 percent in December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Released yesterday, the latest ABS retail trade figures show that the fall followed a 1.5 percent rise in sales in November.
According to the ABS, seasonally adjusted sales fell across four retail industry groups – department stores (-3.5 percent), clothing, footwear and other personal accessories (-1.9 percent), food (-1.3 percent) and household goods (-0.3 percent).
Sales rose in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.5 percent) while ‘other’ retailing (0.0 percent) remained flat.
South Australia (-3.7 percent) recorded the largest fall in sales in December, followed by Tasmania (-2.0 percent), Victoria (-1.0 percent), Queensland (-0.6 percent), the Northern Territory (-0.4 percent), the Australian Capital Territory (-0.4 percent) and Western Australia (-0.1 percent).
New South Wales was the only state to record growth (0.1 percent) in sales in December.
Responding to the ABS retail figures, the Australian Retailers Association said they vindicate the Reserve Bank’s decision to hold interest rates and was a sign to err on the side of caution when minimum wage rises are considered next month.
ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman (pictured) said it was extremely disheartening to have a fall in December retail sales.
“Retail trade for December 2009 confirmed retailers are still posting inconsistent growth and the RBA did the right thing by keeping interest rates on hold,” he said.
“Retailers are now calling on Fair Work Australia to be mindful of any unnecessary wage bill pressures when they start their minimum wage review next month for retailers who are yet to fully recover from the impact of the economic downturn”