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National accounts for March 2024 quarter

Consumer still willing to spend

07 June 2024

Australia’s national accounts reveals that income growth remains strong and consumers are spending more money outside of retail. For the March 2024 quarter, household income rose 5.1% and total consumer spending was up 5.9%, whereas retail spending only rose 2.5%. Households are saving very little of their income, a reflection of stored up savings from the past four years, but also a reminder that consumers will be more value conscious. We expect similar trends to constrain a retail recovery in FY25e as households allocate spending elsewhere and lower retail price inflation dampens overall revenue.

Australian supermarkets - Why are supermarket volumes declining?

The risk to supermarket revenue

24 May 2024

Australian supermarket volumes are likely to drop by 2% in FY24e on a per capita basis, which is a continuation of declines seen since March 2022. While higher food prices may explain some of the softness in volumes, other factors are at play including channel leakage, lack of store refurbishments and less new product innovation. We forecast 3.0% comparable sales growth for the supermarket sector in FY25e, but a downside case of 2.3% is possible if volumes continue to decline. A low rate of comp sales growth would be very challenging given comp cost growth is unlikely to fade. Weaker comp sales will put downward pressure on Coles and Woolworths profit margins.

Presentation: Update to the retail outlook for 2024

Webinar presentation

11 April 2024

The link provides a presentation associated with a webinar we held. The webinar addressed the updated outlook for retail sales and key drivers that could trigger an improvement in spending. In the presentation, we also address the outlook for interest rates, price inflation and population growth. While tax cuts will help sales later in 2024, lower retail price inflation, higher unemployment and a shift of spend to travel and automobiles will all limit the upside in industry sales growth. The presentation also includes insights about retailer profitability, inventory levels, and sales trajectory following results from the 6 months to December 2023.

Retail forecasts for 2024 - Quarterly update

Weak trends for a little longer

11 April 2024

We have updated our retail sales outlook, with modestly higher forecasts for 2024. We forecast 2.7% growth (up from 2.5% previously). We have lifted our non-food forecasts, but lowered food & liquor forecasts. The prevailing sales trends are very soft but should improve in the back-half of calendar 2024 as income tax cuts flow through. We only see a modest pick up because lower retail price inflation will constrain overall sales growth in FY25e.

National accounts for December 2023 quarter

Retail share of wallet mean reverting

11 March 2024

Australia’s national accounts highlights an improvement in income growth as the headwinds from higher interest rates and taxes eases back. For the December 2023 quarter, household income rose 4.3% and spending was also up 4.3%. We are seeing a gradual drop in the share retail has of total spending and has further to go in our view given outsized spending over the past four years.

Retail Forecasts for 2024

Mild rebound later this year

23 January 2024

Australian retail has had a difficult 2023 with below trend sales growth of 3.1%. We expect another challenging year with growth of 2.5% for 2024. While a weaker year, it will be a tale of two halves with softer growth in the January-June period and better growth for July-December. Moreover, we expect slowing sales in at-home food & liquor and a sharper slowdown in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food. We expect an improving rate of growth for non-food retail. While tax cuts will help sales later in 2024, lower retail price inflation, higher unemployment and a shift of spend to travel will all limit the upside in industry sales growth.

Freight costs dropping

The impact of sea freight on the cost of goods

19 June 2023

Retail prices may be the first to contribute to lower inflation. Recent data from the ABS shows the impact that sea freight costs had on certain retail categories through COVID-19. The chart below shows freight costs as a share of the total product cost for imported product categories. Furniture freight went from 6% of the total cost in 2019 to 19% in February 2022.  It was a similar story for appliances.  The unwind of retail inflation is likely to vary greatly by category and is happening already in highly imported categories. In our view, these retail segments are likely to report the weakest sales trends as inflation unwinds quickly. For more click here Report on retail outlook

Australian retail sales April 2023

Normalisation underway

01 June 2023

Australian retail sales rose 3.3% in April 2023, which is the first month of fundamental weakness in a long time. The softness is skewed towards housing categories. Electronics, hardware and furniture sales are all falling. Fashion has reverted to low single-digit growth too. Online has recovered, but is only slightly ahead of overall sales growth. We expect weak sales trends for the remainder of 2023.

Retail sales for March 2023

Orderly slowdown underway

15 May 2023

Retail sales growth of 5.6% for March 2023 is fading towards long-term trend growth and the additional detail reveals a more meaningful slowdown in non-food retail. Electronics, furniture and hardware all showed notable declines and footwear slowed markedly in March. Online sales only rose 1.1%, which reflects weaker demand in non-food retail. The data also suggests retail volume growth is barely positive. The fade in inflation is the key call on retail from here. We expect continued weaker sales trends over the next 12 months.

Super retail (SUL) April 2023 trading update

Starting to see sales shift

05 May 2023

Super Retail Group’s trading update to the end of April 2023 reveals good sales trends are persisting but margin pressure is starting to show through. Gross margins are falling and operating costs are rising. In our view, sales trends are propped up by inflation which we expect to dissipate in 1H24e. Moreover, operating cost pressure will continue in FY24e, making that the year of earnings normalisation. Super Retail’s upcoming strategy day should send some positive messages about growth opportunities, but capex could be higher and defer any major capital management.

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