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Small business sales patchy in August

  • Small business sales turnover increased by 8.4% y/y in August 2011. Most of this increase however reflects the effect of one extra weekday trading day in August 2011 compared to last year.
  • On a year-to-date basis, small business sales remain weak with growth of just 1.3% YTD August 2011, compared to an average decline of 1% in 2010.
  • Automotive, hotels and motels, and business services continue to do well, with restaurants again the outperformer with an increase of 9.7% for the 2011 YTD average.
  • Weakest activity was recorded in the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania, with nominal sales falling on an August YTD basis compared to 2010.
  • Victoria and South Australia continue to relatively outperform, with 2011 YTD average figures of +2.3% and +2.5% respectively.
  • Small businesses in rural and regional areas continue to modestly outperform their counterparts in metropolitan areas.

ANZ today released its Small Business Sales Trends monthly report which showed overall small business sales turnover increased by 8.4% y/y in August 2011, which can mainly be attributed to the extra weekday trading day in August 2011 compared to August 2010. 


The trades sector, such as construction, roofing and plumbing services performed strongly increasing by 2.8% on the 2011 YTD average. Similarly, automotive sales for auto parts and repairers also rose, increasing by 2.4% on the 2011 YTD average.


ANZ General Manager Small Business, Nick Reade said: “We continue to observe a number of consistent trends, such as increased sales in the business and trade servicesrelated sector, which is outperforming more traditional retail outlets such as clothing and fashion. 


“Consumers are being cautious with their spending, prioritising their discretionary spend – and it seems to be on the fundamental services. So rather than buying the new car, or the new house, people are choosing to go back to the basics – investing in building, repairing and fixing rather than purchasing new,” said Mr Reade.


ANZ Head of Australian Economics & Property Research, Ivan Colhoun said: “We’re also seeing the turnover of rural and regional small businesses doing better than their metropolitan counterparts. This is likely a reflection of their exposure to the resources sector and improved farming conditions. 


“Furthermore, hotels and motels, other food outlets and restaurants are all notable outperformers in the industry sub-segments, while other areas of business which are subject to internet and/or import competition have significantly underperformed (appliances and electrical, clothing and fashion and homewares and furniture).


“These relative turnover effects produce a very mixed picture, with the strongest performing areas quite discretionary and the weakest areas suggesting pressures from the internet and high AUD. Clearly, consumers are being relatively choosy in where they spend their money,” said Mr Colhoun.


The data is based on the value of credit, debit and Eftpos transactions processed through ANZ merchant terminals and all ANZ card transactions processed through other systems for businesses at least two years old with annual turnover less than $5 million. ANZ has approximately 20% market share of all card transactions. 


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