Election uncertainty leads to drop in retail sales

SmartCompany, July 5 2016:

The Coalition had attempted to reinforce stability and confidence throughout its election campaign but the Australian people appear to have not taken that to heart when visiting the shops.

Data sourced from the Australian Retail Index by Retail Express, shows the last week of the federal election caused a significant drop in retail spending rates.

A 14% drop in sales has been seen across all retail sectors across the country, including fashion, furniture, sporting and general goods.

The clothing sector was hit hardest by consumer uncertainty, seeing a 30% reduction in sales compared to the week prior.

In comparison, the Australian Retail Index recorded a 13% drop across all retail sectors in the same week in 2015, leading Retail Express to attribute the decline in retail expenditure to the federal election.

This comes at a bad time for retailers, some of which have been experiencing slow winter sales.

Retail Express chief executive Aaron Blackman said in a statement Retail Express is “forecasting a strong bounce back in the weeks to come”.

“Healthy retailers will weather the storm however it’s important that retailers have effective strategies in place to manage these kinds of downturns,” said Blackman.

“We expect a positive movement in the coming weeks and months ahead, all the way through to Christmas.”

Figures were consistent across all states and territories, except for in New South Wales and Victoria when it came to sporting goods. The category recorded a sales increase of 24% in NSW and 5% in Victoria.

Brian Walker, chief executive of the Retail Doctor Group, told SmartCompany elections “always put a dampener on consumer confidence”.

“Uncertainty around election time always expresses itself in retail sales,” Walker says.

“With this current political hiatus and result uncertainty, the dampening effect will continue.”

However, Walker says the downturn in sales could also be due to the transition into winter, especially in the fashion sector.

For businesses looking to combat this drop in sales, Walker advises to just “keep building on your strengths”.

“Maybe look into some advertising and marketing, but by and large it is business as usual,” Walker says.

“Businesses just need to weather this, we see it every every election, there is no reason to panic.”