Lending Association

Retail sales rebound despite seasonal shifts

Recent updates from retailers suggest a rebound in retail sales in January, following a significant fall in December. The dip in December was attributed to shoppers’ heavy spending during November’s sales events, followed by cutbacks leading up to Christmas and New Year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) highlighted that events like Black Friday, imported from the US, are disrupting traditional seasonal patterns. ABS data revealed a 1.1% rise in retail sales for January, after a 2.1% drop in December and a 1.5% increase in November.

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, noted that the January rebound followed a sharp decline in December, primarily due to consumers curtailing spending post-Black Friday sales. However, despite the January uptick, retail turnover remained unchanged in trend terms, reflecting shifting spending patterns influenced by seasonal changes around Black Friday.

While January’s 1.1% increase compared to January 2023 was below the inflation rate, it showed a slight improvement from December, hinting at potential growth in consumer spending. Non-food sectors experienced a rebound in turnover, with clothing, household goods, and department stores leading the rise.

Food-related industries also saw improvements, with cafes, restaurants, and takeaway services benefiting from large sporting events. However, food retailing experienced a slight decline, attributed in part to falling meat and seafood prices.

Sales increased across most jurisdictions, with Tasmania being the only exception. Looking ahead, the impact of events like Taylor Swift concerts and sporting events on retail spending remains to be seen, suggesting potential shifts in consumer behavior in the coming months.