Shares in furniture retailer and superstore franchisor Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX: HVN) edged lower today after the group posted upbeat sales numbers for the quarter ending September 30 2016.

In its core Australian market same-store sales were up 5.4% over the prior quarter in a reflection of Australia’s strong housing market across the eastern states in particular.

The group also has substantial franchisee operations in Europe and Asia with total aggregated sales for the quarter at $1.69 billion. This despite falls in European currencies including the British pound providing a headwind to Australian dollar denominated sales numbers.

Harvey Norman remains a founder-led business that is heavily leveraged to the underlying health of housing markets, wage growth, and consumer confidence as its franchisees’ operations rely on strength across this trio of factors to drive sales higher.

The other salient factor helping lift the stock more than 20 percent over the past year is super-low interest rates which support consumer borrowing and the housing markets.

Harvey Norman investors then should be of the view that interest rates in Australia and globally have not bottomed out and if anything are likely to go lower as the share price may tend to move inversely to local borrowing rates.

Other options in the retail space that may offer solid long-term returns include Solomon Lew-led Premier Investments Limited (ASX: PMV), or footwear specialist RCG Corporation Ltd (ASX: RCG).

These Low Interest Rates Could Totally Devastate Your Retirement!

With global interest rates set to remain at these "emergency low" levels for years -- perhaps even decades -- unless you take decisive action NOW, your retirement could be seriously at risk. Click here to learn how to NOT run out of money in retirement.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Motley Fool’s #1 Dividend Pick for 2017!

With its shares up 155% in just the last five years, this ‘under the radar’ consumer favourite is both a hot growth stock AND our expert’s #1 dividend pick for 2017. Now we’re pulling back the curtain for you... And all you have to do to discover the name, code and a full analysis is enter your email below!

Simply enter your email now to receive your copy of our brand-new FREE report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2017.”

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our https://www.fool.com.au/financial-services-guide">Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.

Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson has no position in any stocks mentioned.

You can find him on Twitter @tommyr345

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.