Sunday 10 November 2019

The Current State Of Retailing

While sales continue to struggle under the sheds at QVM there are a few things happening out in the wider retail world that give cause for concern.

Perhaps leading the concern are reports that the recent Federal Government tax concessions are not filtering through to retail. When Kevin Rudd opened the purse strings back in 2008 the impact on retail buying was almost immediate. This time, there is concern that tax concessions are going to pay down debt and the much needed boost to the economy is simply not happening.

September retail sales fell well short of expectations although foot traffic is up in October.

A recent global survey of CEO confidence recorded a 21% drop in sentiment by our leaders with climate change, Brexit, trade wars and Hong Kong protests blamed for the decline.

The Australian Retailers Association is about to go through a shake-up with long time chief, Russell Zimmerman, departing and major retailers joining the group for the first time. This follows a failed attempt to join the ARA and NRA in one body.

Struggling department David Jones recently announced the sale of its building on the south side of Bourke St. Mall to provide better facilities in its store across the road although observers suggest it is more about pervading financial issues for the group with major losses over the last two years.

Economic commentators are predicting another interest rate cut although talk is more about sitting tight and seeing what happens globally. Even the Reserve Bank has been described as having a “wait and see” approach, as it looks to others, including the Federal Government, to make moves.

At a local level, Traders are reporting unexplained fluctuations in business levels. There have been increasing occasions when good crowds simply do not translate to sales and the normal boost provided by events like the Spring Racing Carnival is not evident. Traders are reporting a good variety of visitors, and a positive response to a day out at QVM, but shopping bags remain scarce.

At present there is a lot of head scratching going in and in racing language, perhaps we are just waiting for someone or something to break out of the pack and race forward. Until then we might need to keep a tight rein on expenses and make the most of limited opportunities.

By Greg Smith