Early bonus for retail

NOVEMBER sales figures afforded retailers an early Christmas bonus with WA’s highest spending month on record, according to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

Small Business Development Corp-oration managing director George Etrelezis said total retail spending of $1,232.4 million in November represented a 5 per cent increase on the same period in 1998.

“The WA retail sector is continuing along a strong growth path established in mid-1999 with 0.8 per cent growth recorded for both October and November,” Mr Etrelezis said.

He said several factors could be contributing to the continued growth.

“Consumers may see the current low interest rates as unsustainable and be making the most of their disposable income now,” Mr Etrelezis said.

“Some may also be choosing to spend or not based on the imminent introduction of the GST and associated income tax cuts.”

The ABS figures showed that, of the total increase in retail spending over the previous year in WA, food and household goods topped the shopping list, representing 41 per cent and 31 per cent of growth respectively.

“Spending on food reached an all-time high of $523.5 million,” Mr Etrelezis said.

Estimated spending on household goods also reached a record high, increasing from $187.4 million in October to $193 million in November.

“Extremely strong activity was recorded in the six months to November in the furniture, floor covering, domestic hardware and housewares sub-categories,” Mr Etrelezis said.

Mr Etrelezis said spending on clothing and soft goods, in department stores and on recreational goods also contributed to the total growth, representing 17 per cent, 7 per cent and 5 per cent respectively.

Spending on recreational goods in November went up almost 1 per cent from the previous month to reach $59.4 million.

The only sector reporting a downturn was hospitality and services with a fall of 7.6 per cent from October to November.

Total spending in this category was $150.2 million which was lower than any previous November figure since 1994.

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