Australian retailers will now be able to compare their store’s sales to their competitors on a weekly basis, thanks to a new retail sales index launched today.
The first edition of the Australian Retail Index shows that the Easter break led to a 8.4% boost in retail sales.
The index has been created by corporate advisory firm BDO and software and point-of-sale provider Retail Express to provide local retailers with weekly sales data in four categories: fashion and accessories, furniture and homewares, sporting and recreational goods and other general retailers.
Fairfax reports the sales data for the index is collected from more than 2000 retailers. The free subscription-based service will initially compare weekly sales figures with sales from the previous week and one year ago.
The service will expand later this year to offer daily sales data.
Retailers will also be able to compare sales across states and in metropolitan and regional areas, as well as gain insights into how average transaction values and the ratio between credit card and cash transactions are changing.
Unlike retail sales data compiled by the major banks, which relies on credit card data only, the Australian Retail Index will also include cash transactions and lay-buys.
BDO national retail lead partner Simon Scalzo told Fairfax the index will enable business owners to make more timely decisions about their business.
Scalzo said that many businesses rely on sales data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that is often almost two months old. “It’s almost like looking in the rear-view mirror,” he said.
The executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, told SmartCompany that up-to-date sales data is “vitally important” for businesses of all sizes.
“This index is vital for any business because as a retailer, you would like to know how you are travelling compared to your counterparts,” said Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said in the case where a retailer’s sales are down, comparing their results with companies in a similar situation using the Australian Retail index will likely make that business owner feel more comfortable.
On the other hand, Zimmerman said if a business has seen a particularly strong response to a new sales promotion, and they know that their competitors are not experiencing the same level of sales, they will know they are on the right track.
Zimmerman said the size of the index means it will cover all of the major retail sectors and therefore give a good indication of how the retail market is tracking.