08 January 2010

Billionaire retailer says Australian economy faces its next big boom

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Gerry Harvey, the billionaire chairman of the nation’s largest electronics seller, has said that Australia’s economy is heading to its “next big boom”.

His comments come after a report showed retail sales surged by the most in eight months after households increased their spending at department stores and on clothing, due in part to a three-month surge in employment.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than half of the Australian economy, will strengthen, Harvey said. 

 “I’ve been saying for months now that the economy is recovering quite strongly and my belief is that we’re on the way to the next big boom,” the chairman of Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. told Bloomberg television.

The report showed Australian consumers went on a shopping spree during November. Spending on clothes rose 2.5 percent in November, the biggest jump since March 2009 when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government was distributing more than AU$20 billion in cash to individuals as part of a economic stimulus.

Consumers also spent 1.6 percent more on food, and an extra 1.1 percent at department stores such as David Jones Ltd. and in restaurants, cafes and fast-food chains.

“The retail sector has been recovering very strongly since April last year, and most retailers will tell you that,” Harvey said. “The economy in Australia is recovering strongly.”

The Australian economy is one of few in the world to skirt the recession and is generating more jobs than the central bank and government forecast early in 2009. Unemployment in Australia looks like it has peaked at less than 6 per cent, much less than many other  OECD countries.

Australia added 99,500 new jobs in the three months through to November, bolstered by companies such as Chevron Corp, which is expanding liquefied natural gas ventures in Western Australia to meet rising global demand.


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