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Retailers call for another rate cut

Author: Victoria Bruce Source: AAP
Monday 9th January 2012

Interest rate cuts have done little to boost Australia's retail trade figures, a retail industry group says.

Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) chief executive Margy Osmond has labelled the November 2011 retail trade figures "disappointing" and says a third rate cut in February could be the best medicine to boost the floundering industry.

"Certainly we would have thought in the past that two interest rates cuts would have been enough to stimulate spending - well maybe it takes three now," Ms Osmond told reporters in Sydney on Monday.

Official data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday showed retail trade in November 2011 was relatively unchanged from the previous month, rising to $20.933 billion from $20.927 billion in October.

Ms Osmond said the lacklustre figures were a result of an unusually cool summer, which was discouraging fashion and food shoppers, and general unease about the ongoing European debt crisis.

She said fashion, accessories, footwear and food had all been casualties and negative sales growth in Victoria and the ACT had dragged down overall sales figures.

She said a further decline in retail sales could signal future job losses across the sector.

"Retail employs 1.2 million Australians so it's very important that this is a sector that's healthy," Ms Osmond said.

However, she said the December 2011 retail sales figures, due to be released next month, would prove whether the pre-Christmas interest rate cuts - one in early November and one in early December - helped boost sales or not.

"Certainly anecdotally, what retailers have been telling us is that the period before Christmas was a little disappointing ... but that the sales were good after Christmas," Ms Osmond said.

"The question will be, are they good enough to make up for what happened before Christmas?"

Ms Osmond said she hoped the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) would consider a third rate cut when it next met in February.

The ANRA represents Australia's large retail chains.



Tags: ANRA, Retail
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