If you think the car park at your local hardware store has been busier than usual recently, you’re probably right.
As this chart from Commsec reveals, sales of hardware, building and garden supplies in Australia surged in December, jumping by 10.2% from the levels of a year earlier.
That’s more than three times faster than the growth in total retail sales over the same period.
Sales in this category are now growing at the fastest annual pace seen in 17 months, and have consistently outperformed growth in total retail spending over the past two years.
It appears that many Australians spent November either in the garden or building things, at least compared to the levels seen a year earlier.
That may have been been brought forward by an announcement from Woolworths early last year that it would close its hardware and garden supplies chain, Masters, by late 2016.
Australia’s ongoing residential building boom, along with heavy discounting as a result of Masters’ closure, go some way to explaining why sales in this category have outperformed over the past 12 months.