Sunday, October 07, 2012

Spike in shoe sales heralds new consumer confidence?

In the US during February and March 2012 there was a spike in shoe sales (US$2.4 billion compared to the same months in 2011). The overall sales in the first quarter were also better by 7.4% compared to Q1 2011. Something similar happened in the clothing sector with better sales in May than were generally expected. Economic analysts attributed these good results to the beginning of economic recovery in the US. With a lead into the US elections consumers were beginning to feel less anxious about the general situation and job market. This is in stark contrast to the uncertainty still ruling in the euro zone. Figures released from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show retail sales across Western Australia jumped by 1.4 per cent in August, the biggest increase in 10 months and the best performance by any State or Territory. Over the past year, while retail sales nationally grew 3.1 per cent they are up 9.2 per cent in WA. The value of shoe sales in WA lifted 4.4 per cent in August to be 35.1 per cent higher over the past year. The shoe trade has overtaken cafes and restaurants as the fastest-growing retail sector in WA. Consumer confidence, one of the biggest factors influencing car-buying, jumped in September to the highest level since February. It was bolstered by a brighter outlook for overall business conditions and hiring. The shoe-buying binge by West Australians is certainly due to many factors including coming out of a gloomy winter, cheap imports and because of the mining boom there are those who can afford top of the range fashions. The isolation of Perth (capital of Western Australia) necessitates the bulk of clothing is brought to the West Coast by sea containers. New colours and shoe styles have created a spike with the arrival of new supplies but whether by itself heralds greater consumer confidence in the rest of Australia remains to be seen.

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