Lacklustre lift in August retail trade

Retail sales slid 0.4 per cent in March, which followed a 0.2 per cent rise in February.

Retail sales slid 0.4 per cent in March, which followed a 0.2 per cent rise in February. Photo: AAP

Australian retail sales lifted a modest 0.2 per cent last month as consumers reined in spending in response to cost of living pressures.

The 0.2 per cent increase in August follows a 0.5 per cent uptick in July, as recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

In June, retail trade sunk 0.8 per cent.

ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber said the subdued rise in August suggested consumers were tightening their belts.

“Considering how high inflation and strong population growth has added to retail turnover in the past year, the historically low trend growth highlights just how much consumers have pulled back in response to cost-of-living pressures,” he said.

Mr Dorber said the FIFA Women’s World Cup likely fed into a pick up in spending in cafes, restaurants and takeaway outlets, as well as growth in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing.

“Warmer than usual weather and additional promotional activity linked to Afterpay Day lifted spending on discretionary goods, especially clothing, footwear and personal accessories,” he said.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing was up 1.3 per cent, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services lifted 0.7 per cent, other retailing grew 0.7 per cent, and department stores increased 0.4 per cent.

The ABS also released job vacancy data, with the number of open roles falling around nine per cent between May and August.

There were 390,000 job vacancies in August 2023, down 38,000 from May, as demand for workers eased.

The labour market is still tighter than before the pandemic, with job vacancies around 72 per cent higher than in February 2020.


Topics: Retail
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