Retail sales boost adds further optimism to Australia’s economic picture

By Addie Thomes

Retailers across Australia appear to be faring well, with overall sales growing three times that forecast by analysts.

Australian retail turnover rose 0.6 percent in May 2017, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures. This follows a rise of 1.0 percent in April 2017, and defies the 0.2 percent prediction.

There were rises in household goods retailing (2.2 percent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.3 percent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.6 percent), other retailing (0.6 percent), and food retailing (0.1 percent). It wasn’t all good news, however, as these rises were offset by a fall in department stores sales (-0.7 percent).

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The rise in household goods was across all subgroups: electrical and electronic goods retailing (2.8 percent), furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing (2.0 percent), and hardware, building and garden supplies retailing (1.5 percent).

Some have suggested the growth in household goods and electrical product sales were partly the result of replacing appliances broken by recent storms, including Cyclone Debbie which struck in late March.

When broken down in provinces, there were rises in New South Wales (1.3 percent), Victoria (1.2 percent), South Australia (0.8 percent), Western Australia (0.3 percent), Tasmania (1.2 percent) and the Australian Capital Territory (1.0 percent). There were falls in Queensland (-1.1 percent) and the Northern Territory (-0.5 percent) in May 2017. 

All of this, combined with recent growths in automotive sales, tourism bookings and a population that is rising ahead of expectation, make for a tentatively optimistic outlook for Australia’s economy.

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