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Consumers should be spending, Harvey says

According to Gerry Harvey local consumers should be “as happy as pigs in sh**” and spending their cash, given low unemployment and the resources boom.

The Harvey Norman CEO expressed his frustration with the state of the local retail market to AAP, saying he can’t see when the tide will turn.

“I don’t see a way at the moment. I don’t see how anything’s going to change.”

“With unemployment at five percent and a resources boom we should all be happy as pigs in sh**,” Harvey added.

Harvey Norman reported a 9 percent rise in net profit after tax earlier this week, but cited a cautious outlook for the rest of the year given volatility in global markets, rising utility costs, dampened housing markets and weak equity markets.

“You’ve got too many things out there affecting the minds of humans and it’s just an avalanche of media activity and government activity that’s making people unhappy and not wanting to spend their money,” Harvey said.

Harvey said sales in August had been especially bad, with a 6.5 percent fall in like-for-like sales and some stores seeing a sales dive of up to 20 percent.

“‘I think there are 50 different [reasons] but it was really bad in the first two weeks of August because the stockmarket and all the sentiment, and at the time they thought ‘Holy Moses! I’m not going to buy anything, the whole world is about to crash’, and so the first two weeks our sales were down 20 per cent.”