Retail survey shows strong growth to Christmas


CHEP and AFGC researchers expect promising performance to continue this quarter

Retail survey shows strong growth to Christmas
Research points to boost for retail services demand

Transport and logistics firms exposed to the retail sector will hope its rising trend in turnover will continue after the release of the latest Australian Food and Grocery Council Chep Retail Index.

The research shows year-on-year growth in retail sales is starting to pick up "and can be expected to be sustained in the early months of the new year", with turnover forecast to burst through the $22.5 billion mark next month.

 Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) CEO Gary Dawson believes the strengthening rate of growth "suggested the Christmas trading period in 2013 may have been better than analysts had expected for retailers".

On a quarterly basis, the Index was 4 per cent higher in the December 2013 quarter compared with the December 2012 quarter.

Growth was 4.2 per cent higher last December compared with December 2012, up from an increase of 1.9 per cent between September 2013 and September 2012.

The survey’s authors believe the lift is due to the long-awaited effects of lower interest rates and the growth is the strongest in four years.

"The strong growth since August 2013 is a welcome change. We’re delighted that the retail industry experienced a stronger than forecasted Christmas peak and that the uplift can be expected to continue into the March quarter of 2014," CHEP Australia & New Zealand President Phillip Austin says.

"With our network size and scale, CHEP fully supported our retail customers through this upswing, and is well positioned to meet the additional demand for pallets, produce crates and retail display solutions resulting from the increase in retail trade."

Some retail sectors continue to do better than others.

Food retailers have remained close to the performance of the broader retail benchmark, while clothing retailers have seen sales growth pick up appreciably to around 8 per cent in recent months and are now outperforming other sectors.

Department stores have not recorded sales growth over the past year, and continue to lose market share, while household goods retailers are still seeing sales growth of around 2 percent despite low interest rates.

"Retailers will be hoping that a recent fall in the value of the Australian dollar will make overseas online retailing a less compelling alternative for Australian shoppers," the survey’s authors say.

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