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Myer CEO calls for Dec rate cut


A December interest rate cut from the central bank would give the economy a boost and deliver retailers a pre-Christmas shot in the arm, Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes says.

Mr Brookes said Myer was expecting a flat to slightly positive Christmas.

He said an interest rate cut would give the department store "a bit of a kick" heading into the traditionally busy trading period.

"For us, we would love to see a December rate cut," Mr Brookes told reporters after speaking at the Australian Retailers Association annual awards breakfast in Sydney on Thursday.

"We think the environment warrants a December rate cut and so we will keep our fingers crossed that the Reserve Bank decides to cut interest rates."

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept the cash rate unchanged at 3.25 per cent at its Melbourne Cup day board meeting.

However, RBA governor Glenn Stevens said earlier this week the RBA was open to further rate cuts in the period ahead should conditions warrant such a move.

Mr Brookes said Myer's best-performing states for the past two years had been Western Australia and Queensland.

The gap between its stores in those two states and the rest of the country had narrowed in recent times, as the resources boom showed signs of slowing and the other states produced improved performances.

"Moving forward, if we can get a couple of interest rate decreases to try and kick start some of the economy and compensate for mining coming back, to me it is going to help retail trade in general and certainly going to help Myer," Mr Brookes said.

"Things aren't getting any worse that's for sure, but it is still a very difficult trading environment."

Mr Brookes said a lower Australian dollar would also give local retailers a boost, given the high currency resulted in more people heading overseas and made internet shopping more attractive.

He said Myer's online sales were growing "at an exponential rate", albeit from a low base given they comprised less than one per cent of the department store's total sales.

"We expect it to be 10 per cent of our business over the next five years," Mr Brookes said.

Mr Brookes said Myer was well placed to thrive in online selling.

"Bricks-and-mortar retailers here today are at a competitive advantage if they can get into that online space," Mr Brookes said.

"Rest assured, that space in the future will be dominated by the Woolworths, the Wesfarmers group, David Jones and Myer, as we get better and better at our internet sites."

Myer, which participated in the Click Frenzy online promotional event, achieved record sales on its website on Tuesday, then promptly doubled that again on Wednesday.

Myer was up five cents, or 2.4 per cent, at $2.15 on Thursday.