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Australia's retail sales rise again in January: report

(Xinhua)

10:45, February 20, 2012

SYDNEY, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Retail sales in Australia continued to rise in January, driven by sales growth in clothing stores and by mail order/telephone order providers, according to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) Business Sales Indicator (BSI) report released on Monday.

The bank's January BSI report showed a 0.6 percent rise in trend terms in January, following similar gains in November and December.

The BSI, which tracks the value of credit and debit card transactions processed at businesses with Commonwealth Bank merchant facilities, recorded rises in spending in all states for the fourth consecutive month.

Clothing stores and mail order/telephone order providers recorded the strongest sales growth, up 2.3 percent and 2.0 percent, respectively.

CBA Local Business Banking Executive General Manager Matt Comyn said businesses were benefiting from the continued rise in sales in January.

"Despite ongoing economic concerns being felt both here and overseas, sales figures in most industries are ticking up and have been for some time now," Comyn said.

"While the improvements are a good sign, there are a range of factors that contribute to consumer confidence; the ongoing fluctuations we are seeing in the global economy, therefore, make it difficult to forecast how strong the recovery will be," he said.

The bank's subsidiary Commonwealth Securities (CommSec) chief economist Craig James said the sales figures justified the central bank's decision not to cut the cash rate at its February board meeting.

"We have seen economy-wide spending growing again in January and the results also align with the Reserve Bank's view that activity in the services sector has generally proved stronger," James said.

"However, we will need to see ongoing improvements in consumer confidence for that trend to continue and for the associated benefits to be felt by a larger number of businesses," he said.

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