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Xmas Retail Sales Weaker Than Expected

Australian retail turnover was significantly less-than-expected in December, with ABS data revealing a 0.4% slump versus the flat result economists expected.

The Australian dollar has slipped from 0.7214 US cents to 0.7198 US cents, following the report.

Confirming previous analyst speculation, December retail sales were severely impacted by November online sales events – e.g. Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

As previously reported, retail sales in November notched a 0.5% rise, trumping economists’ expectations for 0.3%.

[Retail Sales – ABS]

December-quarter sales growth jumped just 0.1% versus a 0.2% lift in the previous September quarter.

Impacted by continued growth in online shopping, foot traffic across December was also among the worst on record.

It comes as several retailers – e.g. Kathmandu, Kmart and PAS Group – warn of lower-than-expected profit amid weak Christmas sales.

NAB’s Online Retail Sales Index also slipped 1.4% for the month of December, however, Chief Economist Alan Oster asserts the results “partly reflect” underlying weakness in the retail sector.

Set to impact Q4 GDP, quarterly retail sales volumes lift by just 0.1% – significantly well below 0.5% expected.

For the month of December, ‘household goods retailing’ fell by 2.8% whilst ‘electrical and electronic goods retailing’ plummeted 5.3% [seasonally adjusted].

Department stores also dived 1.1%.

[Department stores – ABS]

[Household goods – ABS]

Retail sales in NSW have continued to decline, slumping 0.6% – the third largest dip in the past four months.

Turnover declined across all Australian states and territories, except WA with a modest 0.1% gain.

Some analysts expect the RBA to flag a lowering of its 2019 and 2018 GDP forecasts after its board meeting today.

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