Retail turnover rose 0.8 per cent in February, according to new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Following subdued results in both December (-0.4 per cent) and January (0.1 per cent), this lift is a positive boost to the retail industry.
ABS director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, Ben Faulkner, said that most sectors experienced better results in February, with department stores leading the charge.
“There were improved results across most industries with rises in food retailing (0.8 per cent), department stores (3.5 per cent), household goods retailing (1.1 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.6 per cent).
“Other retailing (0.0 per cent) and cafes, restaurant and takeaway services (0.0 per cent) were relatively unchanged,” he said.
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO, Dominique Lamb, said that the increase in February shows strengthening consumer confidence.
“The ABS sales figures for February are the largest monthly increase since November 2017 and indicate that consumer confidence is heading in the right direction.
“It has been a very sluggish period for retail and these figures serve as a giant morale boost to businesses across the country,” she said.
Lamb also said that the 2019 Budget also helped to lift morale for retailers.
“The 2019 Budget takes keys steps towards helping Australia’s retail sector, which has so far experienced a slow start to the year.
“The tax cuts for low and middle-income earners will mean that ordinary Australian’s will now have more money in their hip pocket to spend at the shops. The need to restore consumer confidence was vital and these tax breaks will go a long way to achieving that.
“Mum-and-dad small businesses have been struggling so far in 2019 and the extension of the instant asset write-off will make a big difference to smaller retailers.
“Local cafes, family-owned restaurants and small clothing shops to name just a few will now be able to make investments in their business that would otherwise be unaffordable,” she said.
Online retail contributed 5.6 per cent to the total retail turnover in February – the same as the contribution it made in January. Compared to February 2018, online retail's contribution to retail turnover has risen 0.5 per cent.