Retail growth not felt here

BENDIGO retailers say a reported growth in the state's retail sector is not reflected in their businesses.

Figures released this week showed a 6.5 per cent increase in Victorian retail sales during the past year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data also showed gains during the past month in the hospitality, clothing and personal accessories sectors.

The monthly sales growth was the second strongest of the states and above the national average of 5.8 percent.

Victorian treasurer Michael O'Brien said the figures confirmed economic confidence among the state's consumers was strengthening.

"Retail is a growing sector for Victoria. Not only are business showing they have the confidence to invest and grow, consumers are demonstrating that they too have confidence to buy," Mr O'Brien said.

But, several Bendigo retailers have told the Bendigo Advertiser they have not seen a rise in trade.

Shop 12 clothing store owner Yvonne Cahill and Ruffells Jewellers owner Martin Ruffell said business was on par with last year's figures.

"We have chosen to put some lower price point labels into the store, so while the volume (of sales) is probably higher, the revenue at the end of the day is about the same," Ms Cahill said.

"People are a little bit more cautious about how much they're spending. Anything over $300 is a bit more difficult to sell, whereas they used to just put it on the counter without a second thought." 

Bendigo Business Council executive officer Patrick Falconer said despite some interruption to shopping behaviour with city road works, most member retailers were faring well.

"My understanding is that retails sales have shown an increase due to a number of events taking place in Bendigo," Mr Falconer said.

"Certainly the small business festival brought people into town, as well as the exhibitions at the art gallery which had an affect on the hospitality industry and a flow on effect when they begin to shop."

Wine Bank on View proprietor Mark Coffey said while the Bendigo hospitality industry might be seeing more dollars across the board, the recent increase in venues meant each business was getting a smaller piece of the pie.

"We've been similar to last year, but the industry as a whole has expanded," Mr Coffey said.

"Economically, we're not necessarily benefiting, but consumers are being offered an over-supply of choices which will hopefully build the industry and be a positive for us in the long-run." 

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