Australia: Retail sales dip in December, but Q4 shows an overall improvement
February 6, 2018
Nominal retail sales in December dipped 0.5% from the previous month in seasonally-adjusted terms, contrasting November’s revised 1.3% uptick (previously reported: +1.2% month-on-month) and undershooting analysts’ expectations of a 0.2% dip. The fall came on the back of lower sales in the household goods and department stores sub-sectors.
Although disappointing, December’s figure should be put into context. They followed a surge in sales in the prior month, aided by the launch of the iPhone X and Black Friday sales, which likely caused consumers to move forward spending traditionally done in December. As Black Friday is a relatively recent phenomenon in the country, it is also possible that seasonal adjustment is not fully accounting for consumers’ changing consumption patterns, distorting the month-on-month figures. Over Q4 as a whole, retail sales showed a notable improvement compared to Q3, rising 0.9% quarter-on-quarter.
On a year-on-year basis, retail sales expanded 1.6% in December, down from 3.5% in November. Meanwhile, annual average retail sales growth fell from 2.6% in November to 2.4% in December.
Author: Oliver Reynolds, Economist