RETAIL sales in Tasmania rose by a surprisingly strong 2.5 per cent in the September quarter and similar growth is forecast for the rest of the financial year.
The Deloitte Access Economics quarterly Retail Forecast Report, released today, says the September quarter lift helped restore the drop in shopping activity in the previous quarter.
``[It] also lifted Tasmania's retail performance over the past year to close to the national average,'' the report stated.
Retail trade figures for October, released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, show that Tasmanian turnover was up again, the second biggest gain nationally at 1.3 per cent.
In 2012 - 2013 the state's retail turnover dropped by 3.1 per cent but the Deloitte Access Economics report forecasts a 2.4 per cent rise in the current financial year.
The report says the performance of the retail sector is at odds with Tasmania's broader economic performance.
``Manufacturing and tourism remain hamstrung by the $A (although recent falls will help), housing construction is in the doldrums and business isn't investing.
``Job losses are continuing and population gains are the lowest of all states.''
The report gives a modest outlook for Tasmanian retail growth in the next four years.
A rise of 0.6 per cent is forecast for 2014-2015, 1.4 per cent for 2015-2016, 2.6 per cent for 2016-2017, and 2.9 per cent for 2017-2018.
The Northern Territory and Queensland, where major resources projects are continuing to bolster their economies, are expected to have the strongest retail growth this year.
Tasmania's predicted improvement is better than New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT and WA.
The Deloitte Access Economics report noted that 2013 had been a patchy year for retail sales as the Australian economy felt the effects of the decline in the resources boom.
It says consumer confidence has been buoyed in recent months by low interest rates and a post-election bounce.
Online sales have slowed with clothing, footwear and personal accessory sales predicted to rebound with steady growth in the next five years.
It says sales of household goods will remain solid.