Retail sector activity picked up slightly in September, a survey of the Australian services industry suggests, recovering from nine months of continuous contraction.
“Retail trade was broadly stable after declining for the best part of a year,” Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said after the release of the Australian Performance of Services Index on Thursday.
The overall PSI measure edged up 0.1 of a point in September to 51.5, remaining above the 50-point mark separating expansion and contraction in activity.
While the index held a glimmer of hope for the retail industry – with the trend reading for the sector rising 2.4 points to 50.6 points – it also reported that sales numbers and selling prices continued to fall during the month.
“While weather changes have brought positive results for some respondents, there is little sign of the stimulatory effects of lower personal taxation rates and lower interest rates that may have been expected,” the AiG’s summary of the monthly PSI report said, adding that shoppers still appeared to be holding back.
“The low levels of demand from the retail sector due to a general cautiousness from customers persist as some retailers run their inventory levels down”.
The PSI, compiled from responses of about 200 companies, indicated that the fall in selling prices across the industry accelerated in September compared to August.