November Retail Trends Underscores Weak Growth

Australian retail turnover rose 1.2 per cent in November 2017, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.  Black Friday and iPhone X sales drove the outcome says the ABS. This follows a 0.5 per cent rise in October 2017. Some will spruke this as a positive sign.

However the more reliable trends are less positive, with the trend estimate for Australian retail turnover up 0.1 per cent in November 2017 following a rise (0.1 per cent) in October 2017. Compared to November 2016 the trend estimate rose 1.7 per cent. This is still weak, reflecting stagnant wage growth, rising costs and high levels of debt.

The state trend data showed NSW, ACT and QLD  had no change, NT fell 0.2% along with WA, while VIC rose 0.3% and SA 0.4%, and TAS rose 0.2%.

“In seasonally adjusted terms, rises were led by the household goods (4.5 per cent) and other retailing (2.2 per cent) industries,” the Director of the Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, Ben James, said. “Seasonally adjusted sales in both these industries are influenced by the release of the iPhone X and the increasing popularity of promotions in November, including Black Friday sales.”

There were also rises for clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.6 per cent) and cafes, restaurants and takeaways (0.4 per cent). Department stores fell (-1.1 per cent) whilst food was unchanged in November 2017.

In seasonally adjusted terms, all states rose. There were rises in Victoria (1.8 per cent), New South Wales (1.0 per cent), Western Australia (1.4 per cent), Queensland (0.7 per cent), South Australia (1.5 per cent), Tasmania (1.8 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (1.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.2 per cent).

Online retail turnover contributed 5.5 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms. This is the largest contribution to total retail turnover from online sales in the history of the online series.

Author: Martin North

Martin North is the Principal of Digital Finance Analytics

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