According to ABS figures released yesterday, August 2013 saw a 0.4 per cent rise in monthly trade figures, providing a light at the end of the tunnel for retailers in Australia who were troubled by unchanged numbers in June and a minimal increase in July.

Though a larger rise would certainly be welcome, the month-on-month 0.4 per cent improvement is a change for the better. Department stores led the way with a 6.4 per cent increase and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services came next with a 0.4 per cent rise.

Retail research also reflects a small rise in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, which increased by 0.3 per cent, and food by 0.1 per cent. These increases combined to counteract the -0.6 per cent decline in household goods.

According to ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman, the beautiful weather much of Australia saw during August accounts for one source of this positive growth trend. The imminent shift to a more stable government has also served to stimulate consumer spending.

“Consumers and businesses need a strong and stable government with pro-business consistent policies in order to allow consumers to regain the confidence to spend. We hope the September retail trade figures follow the same trend and continue to rise,” Mr Zimmerman said.

As evidence of this sentiment, during August consumers were much more active, purchasing newly released products and gifts from department stores. Many department stores feature sales and promotions during the month of August, which may have contributed to encouraging consumers to spend.

When people experience a lack of faith in their government, or uncertain economic times, it’s natural for them to stop spending and put more effort toward saving those hard earned dollars. The ABS’ data indicates that Australians felt more confident as the election date neared, and began venturing out in search of a little retail therapy.

Retail trends will likely continue in a positive direction during October, and as the holiday season gets closer.