Internet-knocking retail giant Harvey Norman revealed June sales figures to the ASX yesterday which confirmed the nation's consumers went on a spending spree in the leadup to the introduction of the GST.
According to the announcement, Harvey Norman franchises, commercial divisions and other sales outlets racked up $2.495 billion worth of sales in Australia, New Zealand and East Timor during the 12 months to June 30.
This represents a sales increase of 27 per cent over the previous 12 months. There were some new stores opened during the 1999-2000 financial year, but this did not account for all of the sales growth. Sales comparisons for "like- for-like" stores also show a 22.2 per cent surge for the year.
As perhaps one of the best barometers of retail spending patterns, Harvey Norman's monthly breakdown shows clearly that June involved a great deal of pre-GST panic spending, which accelerated rapidly as the deadline drew near.
The ASX announcement pointed to sales for the months of April and May to have risen by 20.8 per cent and 29.2 per cent respectively. However, June figures were up by a mammoth 74.2 per cent.
Harvey Norman's chief financial officer, John Skippen, predicted such a good result for Harvey Norman to ARN back in June (see ARN June 21, p60).
"Point-of-sale software and business systems are all going through the roof and hardware sales have also skyrocketed," Skippen said at the time. "Our sales figures are more than we anticipated ... because businesses have had no choice but to upgrade their systems."