Australian Retail Sales surprise to the upside at 0.4%

Shoppers at department store Metro’s Paragon outlet on Black Friday on Nov 23 2018

Retail sales beat expectations slightly in November, rising 0.4 percent m/m. Clothing and household goods sales improved, likely reflecting the growing popularity of Black Friday sales in November, which in the presence of stiff price competition implies higher sales volumes.

"Both of these industries were impacted by strong promotional activity in the November month, including Black Friday sales."

E-retailers continue to boom, with online sales accounting for 6.6% of total sales during November, up from 5.9% in October.

The total retail sales value in November past year was about $3.8 billion.

Meanwhile, the optical goods and books segment posted a sales decline of 4.6 per cent, while food retailers' takings fell by 3.7 per cent and supermarkets and hypermarkets were down by 1.4 per cent.

Australian retail sales jumped to the highest in five months in November boosted by pre-Christmas shopping, an indication private consumption bounced in the final quarter of 2018. On a monthly, seasonally adjusted basis, sales rose by 0.2 per cent in November, or 1.4 per cent with cars excluded.

Even after motor vehicles were taken out of the picture, sales were still down by 0.2 per cent.

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Compared to November 2017, the trend estimate rose 3.6 per cent.

The slowdown leaves annual sales growth at its lowest levels since around May 2018.

Mr Faulkner said there were also slight increases for food retailing (0.2pc) and department stores (0.4pc), but declines for restaurant and takeaway services (-0.1pc).

While, on the surface, the November result was reasonable, the key question now is whether the boost provided by sales late in the month brought forward spending that would normally be seen in December? "Kathmandu's recent profit warning, suggest sales in December were weaker than in November".

"Retail Sales data around this time of year are particularly interesting as consumer spending patterns have been shifting", says Ray Attrill, Head of FX Strategy at the National Australia Bank.

Australian government bonds traded flat during Asian session Friday as investors remain sidelined in quiet trading session despite better-than-expected November retail sales data.

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