Australia: Weak start to the year for consumers
March 7, 2019
Nominal retail sales in January rose 0.1% over the previous month in seasonally-adjusted terms, contrasting December’s 0.4% contraction. This was well below market expectations of a stronger 0.3% increase. Unremarkable wage growth, falling house prices and a heavy stock of household debt continue to weigh on consumers’ spending, which bodes ill for the performance of the economy following a sharp slowdown in GDP growth in H2 2018.
Rising sales in food retailing, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services as well as other retailing led the uptick, partially offset by lower sales in clothing and footwear and department stores.
In annual terms, retail sales expanded 3.3% in January, up from December’s 2.2% increase. Meanwhile, annual average growth in retail sales remained unchanged at December’s 3.0%.
Australia Private Consumption Forecast
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists see private consumption growing 2.5% in 2019, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast. For 2020, the panel expects private consumption to expand 2.7%.