Retailers welcome February cash rate reprieve

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) decision today to again hold cash rates at 4.35%.

It comes after the rate of inflation halved over the last few months of last year and will provide further relief for consumer and business confidence.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra said February’s rate decision will give the retail industry a sense of “cautious optimism” after subdued retail trade performance in December.

“We’re pleased to see the RBA provide some much-needed reprieve for consumers and businesses to set the tone for the beginning of 2024,” Mr Zahra said.

“Today’s decision provides some short-term certainty for Australians and businesses, with the cash rate remaining stable at 4.35% since November.

“At a time of immense financial pressure and hardship for most- avoiding another cash rate increase will positively impact spending and retail operations.

“December’s retail performance was subdued, with cost-of-living pressures taking their toll and many shoppers ticking off their Christmas gift lists in November during the Black Friday sales.

“As a result, retailers will be looking to regain sales momentum in the months ahead.”

With February’s cash rate decision now in the books, the RBA will meet again mid-March – with just eight meetings in 2024.

“With inflation reducing considerably, we’re hopeful the RBA may consider cutting interest rates in the near future,” Mr Zahra added.

“High interest rates are causing considerable cost-of-living stress. Any interest rate relief will benefit Australians, the retail sector, and the broader economy.”

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