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

James D. Morgan/Getty ImagesA lot of Chinese tourists went home in March.

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

After accelerating in the prior two months, including a 0.6% increase in February which may have been assisted by record tourist arrivals from China, economists expect sales growth to slow sharply in today’s report.

Adding extra clout to this release, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) will also release retail sales volumes for the March quarter. This accounts for around a third of household consumption, the largest part of the Australian economy (around 60%).

Here’s the state of play.

  • In February, sales rose by 0.6% to $24.45 billion in seasonally adjusted terms, doubling the median economist forecast for an increase of 0.3%.
  • It was the largest percentage increase since November 2017.
  • Excluding food, and providing a better overall indication on discretionary spending patterns, sales rose by an even larger 0.8% over the month.
  • Sales rose in all categories, and in all states and territories aside from Western Australia and Queensland, during the month.
  • 226,900 Chinese took a short-term trip to Australia during February, the highest level on record.
  • The annual pace of sales rose from 2.1% to 3%, the fastest increase since July last year. Sales ex-food increased by 3.3% over the year, up from 1.8% in January.
  • In March, economists expect sales growth to slow sharply.
  • The median forecast offered to Bloomberg looks for an increase of 0.2%. Individual forecasts range from a decline of 0.1% to a gain of 1.2%, underlining just how much uncertainty there is in relation to the report.
  • Separate indicators from the National Australia Bank (NAB) and Australian Industry Group suggest spending levels were weak in March.
  • Along with the monthly retail sales figure, the ABS will also release quarterly retail sales volumes, a figure that will flow into household consumption in Australia’s Q1 GDP report released in early June.
  • The median economist forecast offered to Bloomberg looks for an increase of 0.5%, down from 0.9% in the December quarter.
  • Individual forecasts range from a drop of 0.5% to a gain of 1.3%.
  • An in-line result will add around 0.1 percentage points to quarterly real GDP growth.

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

Business Insider will have all of the facts and figures as soon as it hits the screens.

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