Retail spend unexpectedly dipped in April

Retail spending fell 0.1 per cent in April, missing market expectations of a lift in consumer outlay.

Seasonally adjusted retail spending dropped to $27.33 billion after a rise of 0.3 per cent the previous month and a 0.8 per cent lift in February, according to seasonally adjusted Australian Bureau of Statistics data released on Tuesday.

The result missed the consensus forecast of a 0.2 per cent rise and the Australian dollar dipped slightly to 69.64 US cents ahead of the Reserve Bank’s monthly board meeting on interest rates.

Spending on household goods fell by 0.9 per cent; cafes, restaurant and takeaway food services fell 0.7 per cent; and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing dropped by 1.2 per cent for the month.

This was offset slightly by a 0.8 per cent lift in other retailing, a 0.2 per cent rise in food retail, and a 1.8 per cent lift in department store spending.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions said consumer spending had been dulled by wage stagnation.

“It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that we are seeing low consumer spending and retail sales when we are still near record low wage growth,” ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien said.

Retail spending in April fell by 0.4 per cent in both in NSW and Victoria, by 0.5 per cent in the Northern Territory, and 0.2 per cent in the ACT.

There were rises in Queensland (0.7 per cent), South Australia (0.6 per cent), Western Australia (0.1 per cent), and Tasmania (0.3 per cent).


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