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October 7th, 2009Retail sales stage a comeback

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by Carolyn Cummins
TheAge.com.au

After steep falls over the past couple of months, retail sales rebounded sharply in August, rising by 0.9 per cent.

This augurs well for retail landlords as they approach the crucial lead-up to Christmas and the half-year round of rent reviews.

The rebound in sales happened as spending returned to normal after the cash give-aways from the Government ended, according to broking and investment house RBS.

The company said the data for August was not necessarily a ”clean read” on consumption because monthly retail figures were volatile and retail trade provided only a partial read on total spending (for instance, real retail trade rose by 4.5 per cent over the first half of the year, whereas real consumer spending was up by only 1 per cent).

”That said, consumer confidence is buoyant, with weekly consumer confidence back at boomtime levels,” a spokesperson said. ”This is an amazing result and no doubt reflects some relief that unemployment has steadied after an initial sharp rise.”

Retail trade figures show the strongest growth in turnover over the 12 months to August 2009 was in NSW (7.7 per cent), followed by Victoria (6.7 per cent).

Agents said monetary and fiscal policy responses to the global financial crisis had a significant impact on Australian retail turnover, making month-to-month variations very large and the interpretation of underlying trends difficult since December 2008.

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