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


Australia’s November retail sales report is about to be released.

It’s perhaps one of the most important data releases in Australia right now, especially given weakness in household consumption — the largest part of the Australian economy — during the September quarter of last year.

This report will be no exception.

Not only will it provide an indication as to whether the modest bounce in October was a one-off or the start of a new trend, but it will also provide the first indication on the strength of sales during the Christmas/Boxing Day period, a time when around 20% of total annual sales occur.

Here’s the state of play.

  • Retail sales account for around 30% of household consumption. Household consumption accounts for just under 60% of Australian GDP.
  • In October, sales rose by 0.5% to $26.05 billion, the largest increase since May.
  • Sales increased in every category and in every state and territory.
  • September’s retail sales result, originally reported as flat, was also revised higher to show a gain of 0.1%.
  • The increase saw annual growth accelerate from 1.5% to 1.8%.
  • Today, markets expect a similar result for November. Of the 15 economists polled by Bloomberg, the median forecast looks for an increase in sales of 0.4%. Individual forecasts range from a gain of 0.2% to 0.6%.
  • Adding to confidence that sales may meet or exceed expectations, a variety of alternate consumer indicators have strengthened in recent weeks.
  • The National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Cashless Retail Sales Index — a release that has a reasonable track record for predicting movements in the ABS’ official report — points to an increase in sales of 0.5%.
  • The NAB’s separate Online Retail Sales Index — a measure of sales over the internet — also jumped by 4.7% in November, the largest monthly increase since December 2014.
  • Recent consumer confidence readings also bode well for today’s report.
  • The Westpac-MI Australian Consumer Sentiment Index hit the highest level in four years during December, building upon the improvement seen in prior months. The separate ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence report matched that outcome earlier this week, rising to the highest level since late 2013.
  • Within both reports, readings on current family finances — a reasonable lead indicator on future spending levels — both recorded solid improvements.

The ABS will release the report at 11.30am AEDT.

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

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