Australian retail sales have met expectations in November, rising 0.4% to a record-high level of $24.774 billion. October’s increase, initially reported as 0.5%, was also revised up to 0.6%.
It was the fourth month in succession that sales have increased, and 17th of the past 18.
From a year earlier, sales grew by 4.34%, an acceleration on the 3.93% pace seen in October.
According to the ABS, increases were recorded across household goods retailing (0.9%), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.0%), food retailing (0.2%), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing 0.8%) and other retailing (0.4%). The only category to record a fall was department stores which contracted 0.8%.
From a year earlier, all categories recorded an increase with household goods retailing, on the back of strong housing market conditions along Australia’s eastern seaboard, recording the fastest percentage increase at 6.62%. Clothing, footwear and apparel, along with “other” retailing, took out second and third spot respectively at 6.12% and 5.78% respectively.
Food retailing, the largest component of sales by dollar value, recorded the slowest annual increase at 2.78%.
All states and territories saw sales increase with the ACT, at 0.9%, recording the quickest growth over the month. Victoria and New South Wales, the most populous states, recorded increases of 0.5% and 0.2% respectively.
From a year earlier all states and territories recorded an increase in sales. Fitting with the divergent economic performance across the country at present, Victoria and New South Wales, at 5.96% and 4.68% respectively, recorded the fastest percentage increase from 12-months earlier.
South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory – those regions most exposed to the fortunes of the mining boom – recorded the slowest annual increase in sales at 2.88%, 2.50% and 0.7% respectively.
In terms of monetary policy implications from the report, there a few. For the second consecutive month sales printed in line with expectations with those trends seen in recent months remaining in place.
With mining sector conditions unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future and house prices now moderating in Sydney and Melbourne, a continued acceleration in sales will likely require further strengthening in labour market conditions in the months ahead.
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