Online Retailer: Westpac’s Matthew Hassan Talks Economic Outlook For Retail

Melbourne, Australia - July 26, 2018: Homeless man sits in front of Westpac bank in Melbourne Australia
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In his keynote speech at Online Retailer 2022, Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan broke down the key stats heading into the second half of the year and predicted how the retail sector would be impacted by current financial trends.

Hassan used a combination of ABS statistics and Westpac economic data to look at a number of important pieces of information surrounding Australian retail’s economic future, including the continued impacts of covid on the market and how global inflation could continue to apply pressure to customer confidence.

All told, the forecast is for consumer trust to grow as covid aftershocks continue to impact the market, with online shopping numbers continuing to rise.

As retail begins to open up in full following the pandemic-enforced lockdowns in recent years, Hassan and Westpac predict a “reopening flourish” followed by a slowing of economic activity as rate hikes impact the industry.

Hassan also spoke in-depth about the current global focus on ESG (environmental, social and governance), pointing out the importance of making setting targets in the coming years with COP26 less than five years away.

“In five year’s time, big corporations will be unable to secure a loan from a bank unless they can provide a credible plan to cut their carbon emissions,” said Hassan.

Though retail is unlikely to be front and centre in this ESG-based revolution, Hassan believes it will impact a companies’ ability to connect and engage with customers, an important factor to consider when retail is increasingly moving towards a personalisation-centric world.

In a positive outlook, Westpac predicts a reduction in unemployment numbers in coming years, though current numbers are perhaps deceiving the reality of around four per cent unemployment nation-wide.

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ONline retailer Westpac

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