Information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has shown that retail spending for March has decreased by 0.4 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.

Spending on clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing was one of the main contributors to the fall, with the category reporting a 4.2 per cent decrease. Following clothing was household goods with a 1.5 per cent reduction.

However, Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) chief executive Margy Osmond has stated that this small “blip” in results should not worry retailers in Australia, and that they should still remain “cautiously optimistic”.

Sales were off to a good start at the beginning of the year, and results so far have been more positive than those seen in the early months of last year.

Retail turnover in March 2013 was 3.2 per cent more compared to March last year, indicating positive improvement overall.

Commenting on this year’s results, Ms Osmond stated that the extended summer may have had a large impact on consumer activity in the clothing sector. The warmer weather may have resulted in less consumers spending money on winter stock, which has begun to hit shelves.

“The combination of continued warm weather and the end of line for cash rate cuts has meant discretionary
spending has again borne the brunt of consumer caution on spending. In the clothing sector alone it was a negative five per cent drop following one of the warmest March months in a decade,” said Ms Osmond.

Retailers that may have been experiencing a decline in sales over the March period may want to look at reviewing their retail strategy, to ensure that they are targeting their customers right.

If the summer heat is still present, then it might be time to keep extending summer sales in order to keep volumes up.