Queensland’s Vexed Economy, Retail Sales Go Backward in January as Coal Exports Boost Australia's Trade Surplus: CCIQ

Thursday 7 March, 2019 | By: Dan Petrie

Retail sales in Queensland fell 0.9% in January as pessimism in the local economy weighs on spending while the state’s coal exports have helped propel Australia to its second highest trade surplus on record at $4.5 billion.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) notes that while strong coal sales are good for government treasuries it is the subdued economic activity around the state which continues to cause the greatest concern.

CCIQ Head of Media and Industry, Dan Petrie said activity in Queensland’s resources sector remains the key pillar for the state economy while the lack activity among the state’s consumers’ needs immediate attention from policy makers.

“The headline trade data reflects stronger commodities prices which as a headline masks the more serious challenges in the local economy.  

“Small business margins are squeezed and consumers simply aren’t spending which in the current environment needs a circuit breaker in terms of boosting both business and consumer confidence,” Mr Petrie said.

In an analysis of the ABS data, Queensland’s retail spend was $5.4 billion over the January period with  food retailing, apparel (back to school) and pharmaceuticals the key sectors that recorded positive growth whilst spending on takeaway food and in cafes and restaurants fell sharply in January.

“Microeconomic reform to boost productivity and measures to accelerate approvals for key projects in Queensland need to form part of a whatever it takes approach to boosting the state’s economy,” Mr Petrie said.

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