It looks like Australian shops were quieter than usual in the lead up to Christmas

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • Foot traffic at Australian retailers was weak in December, according to one data source.
  • Demand being brought forward by Black Friday sales may have been a factor.
  • Australia’s November retail sales report will be released on Friday.

If you thought Australia’s shops were quieter than usual in the lead up to Christmas, this chart suggests you’re right.

Citi Research

From Citi Research, using data from ShopperTrak, it shows the estimated year-on-year percentage change in foot traffic at retailers, comparing the results to those seen in 2017.

With the exception of Black Friday sales in late November, foot traffic was down compared to the levels of a year earlier.

“Shoppers continued to shift December shopping trips online and pull-forward purchases into Black Friday in November. Discounts were required to get shoppers into physical stores,” Citi says.

“We estimate overall foot traffic into store from Black Friday to Boxing Day 2018 was down around 9% on this measure, a deceleration from -4% and -3% over the same periods in 2016 and 2017.”

Based on conversations Citi had with retailers and suppliers earlier this month, it says Christmas was “solid for the supermarkets” while the “balance of risks to sales is to the downside for the discretionary retailers”.

Australia’s November retail sales report will be released on Friday.

The National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Cashless Retail Sales Index — an alternate measure of retail spending that can be used to guesstimate the movement in the official ABS data — pointed to an increase in turnover of 0.4% for November, a slight improvement on the 0.3% increase seen in October.

Alan Oster, Chief Economist at the NAB, noted the impact of Black Friday sales, acknowledging the result — if correct — suggests that underlying sales levels were weak during the month.

He also said there was a risk the sales could have brought forward Christmas into November, creating downside risks for turnover levels in December.

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