After a three- and- a- half year nationwide search another touch of Europe is coming to Melbourne.
Swedish retailer H&M is opening its first Australian store in the city’s historic GPO complex.
The fast- fashion chain, which is known for turning around current trends quickly and cheaply, already has more than 3,200 stores worldwide.
It’s Melbourne outlet is one of 375 that it expects to open this year. As many as six other Australian locations, are on the cards.
But competition is tough with other European retailers like Zara expanding and rivalry between Myer and David Jones intensifying.
Retail spending is continuing its steady recovery, posting a 10th consecutive monthly rise despite a weak employment outlook.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday said retail spending rose 0.2 per cent in February, in line with market expectations.
JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman said February’s slow growth followed a string of strong results in preceding months.
There was a 1.2 per cent gain in retail trade in January and 0.7 per cent rises in both December and November.
“January was a pretty stellar month and we did say at the time that we thought it was probably overstating the fundamentals,” he said.
“So, we’ve had a fair payback in February.
“(The February data) is not disastrous and it does come after a good run but we do think there are some limiting factors that will constrain things.
“The labour market remains pretty soggy … it’s hard to see the consumer accelerating from here until those market conditions change.”
RBC Capital Markets senior economist Su-Lin Ong said discretionary spending continued to strengthen.
“In the context of recent prints, it was fairly decent,” she said.
“Retail sales, excluding food were up five per cent, so it was a fairly good result all round.
“Nothing stands out that much except for a pretty strong result for household goods and that’s broadly consistent with strong housing sector dynamics.
“There’s nothing that really changes the story of an upward trend in retail sales and the firmer consumer sector from last year has definitely continued on into 2014.”