Tasmanian retailers battling

TASMANIA'S retailers are continuing to struggle as consumer spending slid for the 13th month in a row, dropping to its lowest levels since July 2008 in November.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics the state's retail turnover declined 0.7 per cent to just $413 million in the traditionally strong month. In trend terms, Tasmania's retail sales dipped 5 per cent  in the year to November compared to a nationwide rise of 3 per cent.

Tasmania suffered the worst drop in retail spending ahead of South Australia (0.2 per cent) and the North Territory and Victoria, which both lost 0.1 per cent. 

Consumers spent $1.6 million less on Tasmanian pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry retail compared with October, $1.1 million less on household goods, $600,000 less on hardware and gardening supplies and $800,000 less on specialised food.

Spending at Tasmanian supermarket and grocery stores increased $700,000, with cafes, fashion retailers and takeaway food stores also getting a bump in November.

At a national level, retail turnover remained steady in November following a 0.1 per cent rise in October and September.

The poor figures have renewed calls for the GST exemption to be removed for online sales below $1000. 

Australian National Retailers Association chief executive Margy Osmond said: ``These figures make it even clearer that we need the GST tax loophole closed or we will continue to see the retail sector struggle.''

She said it appeared consumers were increasingly doing their Christmas shopping online.

National job vacancies in November were 169,900, a decrease of 2.2 per cent from August.

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