People Spent Less Money Shopping In March: ABS Data Is Out

Getty/Adam Berry

After inching up in February, Australian retail turnover fell 0.4 per cent in March 2013 according to official figures released this morning. While the numbers are down for the month, they are still 2.2 per cent in the March quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows the biggest contributor to the fall in March 2013 was clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, down 4.2 per cent.

Also significantly down was household goods retailing (-1.5 per cent), other retailing (-1.0 per cent) and department stores (-0.1 per cent).

JP Morgan economist Ben Jarman told AAP the March result was weaker than the January and February spending figures.

“A lot of the categories that had been strong, like household goods and department stores, unwound their previous jump,” he said.

“Real consumer demand was quite solid and that’s the first real information we have on first quarter GDP [gross domestic product].”

Unseasonably good weather during March may have helped offset these declines though, with food retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services up 0.8 per cent and 0.2 per cent.

Through the year, Australian retail turnover rose 3.2 per cent in March 2013, seasonally adjusted, compared to March 2012.

In volume terms, turnover rose 2.2 per cent in the March quarter 2013, seasonally adjusted, following a rise of 0.1 per cent in the December quarter 2012.

Read the full ABS release here.

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