Pallet activity is often informally used as a trade barometer, but in Australia, the AFGC CHEP Retail Index has formalized that practice and taken it to an advanced level. The initiative is a collaborative project between the AFGC and CHEP Australia, powered by Deloitte. The Index uses CHEP transactional data based on pallet movements and is a lead indicator of ABS Retail Trade data.
The latest report notes that the rate of growth in retail trade decreased marginally in the first three months of 2013 and is expected to ease further as the year continues. The AFGC CHEP Retail Index showed 3.0 percent growth in the March quarter year on year but forecasts growth will ease to 2.6 percent in the June quarter.
In the month of March, the Index indicates that the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will report year-on-year growth of 2.6 percent, with turnover of $21.7 billion. The Index forecasts May retail trade growth will be 2.8 percent year on year, with turnover increasing to $21.9 billion.
Australian Food & Grocery Council (AFCG) CEO, Gary Dawson, said: “Retail conditions have been soft through the beginning of 2013, and the Index confirms that consumer confidence remains fragile, with low interest rates yet to bring a sustained lift in the retail sector.”
CHEP Index Edition 9 – Graph 2
Recent ABS statistics have shown a more solid rate of year-on-year growth in food and grocery retail than overall retail sales growth. Food retail growth was 4.6 percent in February 2013. Spending on cafés, restaurants, and takeaway food is also seeing a similarly solid growth rate. By contrast, department stores experienced year-on-year sales growth below 1 percent in February as growth in online sales and ongoing price deflation weighed on non-food retailing.
CHEP Australia & New Zealand President, Phillip Austin, said: “We’re pleased to tap into CHEP’s rich data to provide a reliable and robust indicator for the retail sector which has the ability to look at both food and non-food segments across the supply chain.”