Australia: Retail sales flourish in February
Nominal retail sales in February rose 0.6% over the previous month in seasonally-adjusted terms, expanding from January’s revised 0.2% (previously reported: +0.1% month-on-month seasonally adjusted) tepid increase and far exceeding market expectations of a 0.3% rise. Sales were up across the board in February, with a notable rebound in department store sales as well as strong expansions in sales of household goods, and clothing, footwear and personal accessories.
The Chinese New Year, which began in February this year, may have attributed to February’s retail rally as China is one of Australia’s largest sources of inbound tourists. Although February’s strong performance is encouraging following two months of weak readings, retail sales may not be out of the woods just yet as wage growth remains meager and household debt is elevated. In annual terms, retail sales grew 3.0% in February, up from 2.3% in January. As a result, growth in annual average retail sales rose to 2.6% in February from 2.4% in January.