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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.

Retail sales for March 2024

Looking through Easter noise

09 May 2024

Australian retail sales rose 1.3% in March 2024 (0.8% seasonally adjusted). Given the timing of Easter, judging the results is problematic. However, seasonally adjusted data and our own feedback reinforces the view that sales trends remain weak across March-April. Per capita retail volumes fell 2.3% in the March 2024 quarter. Additional category detail shows weakest underlying trends in electronics, furniture, recreational goods and clothing. We expect very weak trends to persist through to June 2024 with a mild pick up for the back-half of calendar 2024.

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.

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.

 

Post-Christmas retail feedback 2023

Festive enough

08 January 2024

Australian retailers have had a decent Christmas in 2023, particularly compared with low expectations amongst retailers and investors. Supermarkets traded solidly and electronics demand improved from very weak levels. Liquor and apparel are still trending at very low rates of growth. There is consensus upgrade risk to retailers, particularly Harvey Norman and Super Retail Group. While sales trends are slightly better, the strength of gross margin is the most significant driver of better earnings. The retailer where feedback has shifted most positively is Harvey Norman.

Retail sales for October 2022

Moderating lockdown distortions

05 December 2022

Australian retail sales growth for October 2022 was 12.0% year-on-year. This is still elevated given part of the month was impacted by lockdowns last year. Once again, three-year CAGR growth rates are more relevant. On that basis, recreational goods, liquor and department stores slowed. It is important to note, we will be back to single-digit industry sales growth in November given the very high base line from 2021. A more noticeable slowdown will be evident in the June quarter 2023.

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