Outlook improves for retailers and housing Mon 7 May 2012 Lara Giddings Premier The Premier, Lara Giddings, said modest growth recorded in today's ABS retail trade figures should be the beginning of better times ahead for retailers as interest rates begin ease. Ms Giddings said that retail trade was up by 0.1 per cent in March 2012 to reach $434.1 million in trend terms. "While retail trade has been soft in recent months, it remains 1.5 per cent higher over the same period last year," Ms Giddings said. "More importantly the outlook for retail spending has improved significantly with the recent rate cuts by the RBA and the prospect of further cuts in coming months. "Australian consumers are still very cautious, reflecting concerns about debt, including the volatile situation in Europe and a weaker jobs market. "But with the impact of the rate cuts yet to take full effect I hope that consumers will be confident enough to make use of additional disposable income and get out and support their local businesses. "Tasmanian retailers have remained resilient through the tough times and they are now well placed to take advantage of new growth opportunities as conditions start to improve, Ms Giddings said. Building Approvals Return to Growth Ms Giddings said that while building approvals in Tasmania remain weak the number of buildings approved has now increased for three consecutive months. "There are tentative signs that the outlook for the building sector is improving and certainly recent rate cuts will make construction much more affordable. "I am also confident that our land use planning reforms, particularly the single residential code, will make future approvals a much more timely process." ANZ Job Advertisements Despite the improvements in retail and building approvals, Ms Giddings acknowledged that the jobs market remained tough. "I have never shied away from acknowledging that our unemployment rate is too high and today's ANZ newspaper job advertisements highlight the ongoing labour market challenges of the non-mining states. "The trend number of newspaper job advertisements has declined across the nation, with the larger falls occurring in NSW, VIC, SA, TAS and the ACT. "Newspaper job advertisements in Tasmania averaged some 321 jobs per week in April, down 4.2 per cent. However, it is important to note that newspaper ads don't tell the whole story, given the rapid move towards online advertising," Ms Giddings said.