Harvey squeals as profit climbs
Like-for-like sales at some stores have fallen as much as 20 per cent this month, says Gerry Harvey. Photo: Louie Douvis
GERRY Harvey has given voice to the frustration and despair of Australian retailers in a climate of collapsing consumer confidence and recession-like trading conditions.
''Australians should be as happy as pigs in s--t,'' Mr Harvey said yesterday. ''I don't see how anything's going to change.''
The retailer nevertheless unveiled full-year results yesterday showing a 9 per cent lift in net profit to $252.26 million.
''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,'' Mr Harvey said.
He said sales for the start of August had been particularly bad, with like-for-like sales dropping 6.5 per cent and some stores down as much as 20 per cent.
''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.''
He said consumers had also lost confidence in the federal government.
Mr Harvey said sales had since picked up across the company's 290 stores as equity markets settled and recovered, and he thought that for the month they would be down only 5-6 per cent.
Despite the gloom the furniture, electrical and bedding retailer's 2011-12 profit was slightly better than expected, although analysts were concerned that a 3.2 per cent fall in comparable sales in the fourth quarter had carried over into the new financial year with a sales drop in August.
The outlook for 2011-12 remains ''cautious'' due to global volatility, higher utility costs, a possible rise in unemployment, and weak housing and equity markets.
Harvey Norman has declared a 6¢ fully franked final dividend, payable on December 5. The shares fell 3¢ to $2.
Poll: Rate Gerry Harvey's comment that we should be as "happy as pigs in shit".
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