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Retail sales for May 2024

Faint pulse emerging

03 July 2024

Australian retail sales rose 2.1% year-on-year in May 2024, which is the best underlying rate of growth since November 2023. The glass half-full would suggest we may be past the trough for retail. The glass half-empty is that the rate of growth is still very weak and indicative of per capita declines in retail volumes. We do think we are now past the trough in volumes, but we don’t expect a swift recovery in retail spending.

Retail sales for April 2024

Early Easter is no help for retail

06 June 2024

Australian retail sales rose 1.2% in April 2024. To adjust for the noise of the timing of Easter we also look at the combined March-April results which shows sales growth of only 1.3%. Department stores and fashion have had the most notable slowdown over the Easter trading period. Supermarket sales are also soft considering data suggests higher inflation in March-April. We forecast subdued retail sales growth trends to continue to June 2024, with a mild pick up for the back-half of calendar 2024.

Don't ditch retail sales

The ABS may cease coverage by mid 2025

16 May 2024

The ABS has stated that its Retail Trade series will cease from July 2025 and instead the ABS will use its Household Spending Indicator to measure consumer spending. This is a risk for all users of retail data given the short history for the replacement data series. Bank transaction data exhibits more volatility and we may no longer have a reliable measure of retail market sizes. We need more data, not less to help retailers, suppliers, landlords, regulators and investors all make more informed decisions and maximise productivity for the industry.

Retail sales for February 2024

No signs of improvement yet

08 April 2024

Australian retail sales rose by 1.6% year on year in February 2024, adjusted for the leap-year effect. Sales trends are very weak, given population and price are still positive contributors to retail. As a silver lining, retail is now almost back to pre COVID-19 underlying sales trends. Perhaps the mean-reversion is done? The weakest categories in February were furniture, electronics and footwear. Pharmacy, cosmetics and apparel did well. We expect retail sales growth to continue to hover around 0%-2% over the next few months.

Contextualising the tax cuts for retail

$20 billion is how much?

20 March 2024

Income tax cuts that come into effect from 1 July 2024 are worth $20 billion over the next fiscal year. While a big number on the surface, we feel the figure needs context given other factors such as changes in employment, living costs and savings could offset some of the benefit. Isolating the tax cuts, we estimate about $5 billion could make its way into retail. All else equal, this is a 1.1% boost to retail sales growth for FY25e. However, a 2.5% drop in hours worked, 1.4% rise in either the unemployment, living costs or the savings rate are equivalent to $20 billion and could neutralise the benefit to retail from tax cuts.

Retail sales for January 2024

Subdued sales growth

11 March 2024

Australian retail sales rose 1.2% for January 2024. Half of retail categories were in decline, including notable declines in furniture, electronics, footwear and recreational goods over the month. Trading updates from a number retailers highlight stabilisation in sales trends, but at a weak level of growth. We expect subdued sales trends to persist over the next four months.

Retail sales for December 2023

Christmas soft but needs context

08 February 2024

Australian retail sales only rose 0.3% for December 2023. If we average November and December, given the Black Friday pull-forward, growth was still a weak 1.1%. The additional detail for December highlights a consumer that is increasingly cautious. Café & restaurant sales were particularly weak, along with liquor and all household goods categories declined.

Australian retail sales for November 2023

Black Friday strength

11 January 2024

Australian retail sales for November rose 2.1%. Black Friday promotions drove improvements particularly in electronics, department stores and furniture. Online food and non-food were both positive, with online food strength growing double-digits. While there are concerns about a pull forward of sales into November, our feedback suggests December sales held up reasonably well.

 

Australian retail sales for October 2023

Consumers waiting for promotions

05 December 2023

Australian retail sales for October 2023 rose 1.3%. Category variability continued with dining out resilient and weakness in furniture, electronics and recreational goods. Supermarkets slowed as fresh deflation dented sales. The expectation of Black Friday sales in November likely gave consumers a pause during October in some discretionary categories. Our feedback on November sales and Black Friday have been stronger.

Australian retail sales for September 2023

Volume normalisation is happening

06 November 2023

Australian retail sales for September 2023 rose 2.1%. The additional detail on volumes highlights the magnitude of the weakness more clearly. In the September 2023 quarter, retail volumes fell by 1.8% and on a per capita basis were down 4.3%. The volume reset is a necessary step in the retail cycle reflecting outsized volumes during COVID-19 and weaker income growth. We are approaching a trough in retail sales growth in our view, but we don’t see any meaningful recovery until late 2024.

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