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Surprise Retail Sales Lift But CE Dips Again

This jump (seasonally adjusted) marks the biggest lift in sales so far this year – and was higher than the forecasted a 0.4 percent increase.

The retail hike, which has been described by one analyst as ‘unexpected’ was attributed to post natural disaster bounce, which afflicted Queensland and Victoria.

“If we look through the volatility of the last couple of months and focus on the underlying trends, it is one that shows retail spending has lifted from its lows but one in which retail spending growth is relatively weak,” said St George chief economist Besa Deda.

The boosted retail sales figure for April followed a dip of 0.3 percent in March and a 1.0 percent rise the previous month. Department stores sales figures also buoyed the overall figure, rising 0.3 percent for April.

The household goods category overall, which includes electronic goods fell -0.1 percent, although seasonally adjusted rose 0.7 percent.

The trend estimate fell by -0.6% for electrical and electronic goods retailing, although after seasonal adjustments rose to -0.4 percent.

This will come as no great surprise to many within the electronics industry which has been plagued by price deflation, heavy discounting and intense competition from online rivals.

Overall, retail in Vic (0.5), Qld (0.5), WA (0.8), NSW (0.2), S A (0.2) N T (1.2) all rose while ACT and Tas witnessed a decline in fortunes.

In trend terms, Australian turnover rose 2.7 percent in April 2011 compared with the same period last year.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the 1.1 percent boost in April retailing was driven by weather conditions and could also be attributed to consumers having more time to shop over the extended Easter break.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman said department stores had seen a boost in sales for April, but when compared to the same time last year this growth is still below the rate of inflation.

“Department stores and fashion retailers have posted growth compared to March 2011 because of the earlier, colder weather but retailers aren’t expecting this stronger trade to continue,” Zimmerman said.

However, May figures will show how consumers have reacted to new taxes announced in the Budget which may cause shoppers to tighten their belts even further, he added.

“Even though there have been some positive results for April, the modest year- on-year growth is a sign consumers won’t be able to afford any increase to their mortgage repayments if the RBA decides to raise interest rates on Tuesday.