Aussies are spending less on clothes, shoes and coffee, as retail turnover stalled despite the government’s tax cuts.
According to data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sales fell over the month of July for two thirds of the industries across six of the eight states and territories.
Spending on clothing, footwear and accessories fell by 1 per cent. Other non-essential purchases also took a hit – cafes, restaurants and takeaway services dipped 0.6 per cent while department stores were down 0.2 per cent.
The whole retail sector sunk by 0.1 per cent nationwide despite the government’s tax cut package giving out up to $1,080 per person.
Figures by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries also revealed that new car sales slumped 10.1 per cent in August compared to the same month in the previous year.
While discretionary spending declined, essential goods such as food and household products grew by 0.3 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively in the same month.
July saw spending dip in Queensland (-0.2 per cent), New South Wales (-0.1 per cent), South Australia (-0.5 per cent), Victoria (-0.1 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-0.5 per cent), and Tasmania (-0.1 per cent). On the other hand, Western Australia (0.6 per cent), and the Northern Territory (0.3 per cent) increased.
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said the numbers “are not good news” for retailers and the economy.
“A drop in turnover shows that consumer confidence remains stubbornly low, despite measures such as the personal tax cuts and reduction in interest rates,” Lamb said.
“Retail is one of the largest sectors in Australia and the biggest employer of young people, so it’s importance to the overall economy cannot be overstated.”
The NRA said Aussie shoppers should “not shy away” from supporting their local retail outlets.
In July, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he expected the tax refunds to encourage 10 million people to spend in shops, and thus give a boost to the weak economy.
Last week, the economy was revealed to be at its weakest in a decade as growth fell to 1.44 per cent over the past financial year.
Frydenberg said the numbers showed the “remarkable resilience” of the Australian economy amid the sluggish global outlook.
“I want to emphasise that Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Singapore and others experienced negative growth in the June quarter,” he said.
However, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said, “If the Treasurer thinks that these weak economic growth numbers are good, then he’s even more out of touch than we feared.”