Retail trade remains tough while exports hold steady Thu 2 August 2012 David O'Byrne Minister for Economic Development The Minister for Economic Development, David O'Byrne, said today boosting consumer confidence remained the key to improving conditions in the Tasmanian retail sector. Figures released by the ABS today show that while retail turnover increased by 1 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms in June, trend figures show the sector remains flat, with a 0.1 per cent decline. "The State Government accepts that conditions in the retail sector remain incredibly tough and the continued decline in turnover in trend terms is disappointing," Mr O'Byrne said. "Today's figures also reveal patchiness across the sector, with growth in clothing sales but a decline in cafes and restaurants. "We are doing what we can to assist retailers, particularly through our investment to get more businesses online. "Earlier this week I helped Hill Street Grocer launch their online store, which is a great example of a small business using innovation to successfully complete against the large supermarkets, "The Digital Ready Program, launched as part of our Small Business Strategy last year, is aimed at helping businesses use new digital technology and online channels to grow their markets and reach new ones. "This is increasingly important as the high Australian dollar means many Tasmanians are choosing to shop online through International sites." Mr O'Byrne said boosting consumer confidence was also critical, as households continued to save more than ever before. "There are signs that confidence is returning as the effects of lower interest rates start to flow through but boosting confidence is also the responsibility of all sides of politics. "Importantly, investors are also showing confidence in the retail sector with Bunnings pursuing plans for new stores in Burnie and Launceston and the Myer development in Hobart." Mr O'Byrne said while retail conditions remain challenging, Tasmanian exports continue to hold up remarkably well against the high dollar. "In the year to June 2012 Tasmania has recorded $3.2 billion in merchandise exports," Mr O'Byrne said. "The key to Tasmania's export resilience has been the rise of China with 29 per cent of all Tasmanian exports now China bound (either direct or to Hong Kong), up 16 per cent over the year. "Today's announcement by Venture Minerals of the discovery of a new high-grade tin discovery in Tasmania's North West is a further encouraging sign that our exports will continue to grow. In a statement to the stock exchange today Venture said the deposit, dubbed 'Big Wilson' could be analogous with Tasmania's great tin discoveries of the past, which would be a major milestone for northwest Tasmania."