Sunday 10 March 2019

The Pain of Retail

“Australia's retailers have started the year where they ended it — in a world of pain.”

This was the quote from an article on the ABC this week. Australian January retail sales were up only 0.1% which surprised many who expected a rebound from December’s poor result (down 0.4%)

Meanwhile in the US, there were reports of 5,300 store closures over coming months including the likes of Gap, Victoria’s Secret and K-Mart. Payless Shoes (gone into liquidation) are closing 2500 stores.

And while it is fine to talk about the statistics, there is a more compelling element to the pain and one that is echoing around QVM right now. Financial hardship is very real for many traders, and even for those getting by, there is no escaping the frustration of declining trade. The personal impact of these times is inescapable.

There are calls for government action because consumer demand is such an important part of our economy’s health. The Reserve Bank is taking a keen interest in the performance of the economy as it mulls over interest rates. Major retail players like Myer are in the limelight as they grapple with extreme change in our industry.

For market traders there is plenty of advice, sometimes conflicting, often without guarantees, and only the game (or foolish) claim to have simple answers. As each of us work through our own situation it might pay to focus on what we can control and leave the rest to others. Frustration has little to offer.

By Greg Smith