Australia: Bushfires deter shoppers and lead to sharpest contraction in retail sales in over two years in December
February 6, 2020
Nominal retail sales in December dived 0.5% over the previous month in seasonally-adjusted terms, sharply contrasting November’s 1.0% surge and marking the strongest fall in two-and-a-half years. The reading came significantly below market expectations of a 0.2% decrease and suffered significantly from the prolonged bushfire season. Moreover, the reading was also influenced by November’s especially brisk result, which benefited from Black Friday promotions.
December’s fall was the result of lower sales in department stores, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, food retailing and household goods retailing more than offsetting higher sales in other retailing.
In annual terms, retail sales expanded 2.4% in December, down from November’s 3.2% increase. Meanwhile, annual average growth in retail sales was stable at November’s 2.7% in December.
With December’s data, retail sales rose 0.5% in inflation-adjusted terms over the previous quarter, contrasting the 0.1% dip recorded in Q3 and suggesting private consumption could be gaining some strength.