Retail sales down 4.2 per cent in December

Retail sales eased by 4.2 per cent from November to December, falling after a big spend-up when Melburnians emerged from their prolonged COVID-19 lockdown.

Australian Bureau of Statistics’ preliminary retail trade figures for December showed spending dropped $1.33 billion over the month.

Spending surged 7.1 per cent to a record $31.7 billion in the previous month after Melbourne COVID-19 restrictions were eased.

The ABS release is based on preliminary data provided by businesses that make up about 80 per cent of total turnover, with the final figures released on February 5.

However, Thursday’s buoyant employment figures should underpin sentiment going forward.

The unemployment rate dropped to an eight-month low of 6.6 per cent in December from 6.8 per cent in November, a further retreat after spiking to 7.5 per cent last July during the depths of the recession.

A further 50,000 people secured work in December, which means 90 per cent of jobs lost between March and May last year as a result of the pandemic have now been restored.

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