SHOPPERS no longer see the value in retail therapy and Orange businesses are feeling the pinch.
Figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show spending in April was down 0.2 per cent, the first decline since June last year.
Household spending was hit the hardest, closely followed by the fashion industry.
Orange Hot Wax Candles owner Narelle Garlick blames negativity in the media and politics for the sharp decline.
“It is all so negative and people are holding on to their pennies because the media keeps telling them the world’s economies are in decline,” she said.
“I have many friends who own businesses and they are all feeling it.
“Everybody is getting nervous.”
Ms Garlick said she was worried consumer confidence would get worse before it got better.
“People need to support their local businesses,” she said.
“It is really important for people in communities like Orange to help each other out.”
With rising power bills, Ms Garlick said people should be stocking up on candles to save money.
“Especially with winter around the corner electricity bills skyrocket and candles are a great way to lower that cost, but I haven’t seen the increase in sales I expected, based on figures last year,” she said.
Ms Garlick’s concerns are echoed by the National Retails Association (NRA).
NRA executive director Gary Black said the figures were further proof that consumers were hesitant to open their wallets.
“These figures are further evidence - if any was needed - that all is not well in retail sector,” he said.
“While other areas of the economy are performing well, we are experiencing what is clearly a retail recession.”