Your 10-second guide to today's Australian retail sales report

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Australia’s retail sales report for August will be released today.

After a strong June quarter, sales disappointed in July, casting renewed doubt as to whether household spending will remain firm in the second half of the year.

Given signs that falling home prices may be starting to impact new car sales, today’s report will be watched closely for signs as to whether consumer caution is extending to day-to-day spending decisions.

Here’s the state of play.

  • In July, retail sales came in flat, missing expectations for an increase of 0.3%.
  • Excluding food sales — the largest category by dollar spend — turnover fell by 0.25% to two decimal places, partially reversing a 0.4% increase seen in June. This is regarded as a measure of discretionary spending.
  • Despite the unchanged monthly result, annual growth in sales rose to 2.9%, up from 2.8% in the year to June. It was the fastest increase since March 2018.
  • Non-food sales also grew at a faster pace over the year, increasing by 2.2%, up from 1.8% in June.
  • With Australia’s estimated resident population increasing by 1.6% per annum, it suggests total and non-food retail sales grew 1.3% and 0.6% respectively over the past year in per capita terms.
  • Today, economists are once again tipping a modest lift in retail turnover.
  • The median forecast looks for an increase of 0.3%. Individual forecasts range from an unchanged reading to an increase of 0.7%.
  • According to Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, new car sales fell by 5.5% in the 12 months to September. Private sales drove the decline, falling 15.8% over that period.
  • In the year to September, Australia’s median home price fell 2.7%, according to data from CoreLogic. The declines were substantially larger in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest and most expensive property markets.
  • The National Australia Bank’s Cashless Retail Sales Index — an alternate measure of retail spending that has, on occasions, been a reliable lead indicator in the past — suggests sales were flat in August.

The retail sales report will be released at 11.30am AEST.

Business Insider will have all of the details and potential implications as soon as it hits the screens.

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