Customers vote with wallets: Wesfarmers enjoys sales bounce
Retail giant Wesfarmers has experienced a marked bounce in sales since the federal election, adding to signs the change of government in Canberra has buoyed the household sector.
Chief executive Richard Goyder said on Thursday he thought there had been an "election campaign effect" - weaker sales late in the campaign followed by a recovery after the poll.
"People like certainty, so I would say the last couple of weeks of the election campaign were softer. Since then, things have been much better," said Mr Goyder, who runs the company that owns Coles, Bunnings, Kmart and Target. "Whether that's just a couple of soft weeks and a couple of strong weeks, time will tell."
Mr Goyder revealed the post-election lift as he said local business leaders would push for global trade liberalisation to be a priority when Australia hosted the G20 summit next year.
With authorities pinning their hopes on stronger household spending to drive growth as the mining boom fades, Mr Goyder said a case could be made for a period of higher confidence.
He noted the recovery in property and equity markets and said these could have a "wealth effect" - where people feel richer even if their incomes are unchanged.
"There's a number of factors that you could actually create a case that could lead to higher levels of confidence," he said. Consumer confidence jumped to its highest level since late 2010 in the days leading up to the election, the Westpac Melbourne Institute consumer sentiment index showed.
In contrast to calls for more interest rate cuts from retailers including Solomon Lew, Mr Goyder said he did not think making credit cheaper would boost spending, and it was important the Reserve Bank kept "firepower" intact.
He made the comments after releasing the priorities of B20 Australia - a group of business leaders that will give input into recommendations put to global leaders.
Trade will be a key goal, alongside investment in infrastructure.
In an environment of weak global growth, Mr Goyder quoted estimates that removing trade barriers could boost annual global growth by $US2.6 trillion ($2.73 trillion).
"There's a really big prize to remove some trade barriers, and I think for Australia ... there's a significant opportunity if that happens."
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