Australian Retail Sales: April 2022 - No points for second place
About the author:
- Author name:
- By Alexander Mees
- Job title:
- Co-Head of Research and Senior Analyst
- Date posted:
- 30 May 2022, 8:00 AM
- Sectors Covered:
- Gaming and Retail
- Retail sales in Australia continue to be resilient. According to preliminary data from the ABS, retail sales rose 0.9% month-on-month in April 2022. Sales were 9.6% higher than in March 2021, climbing to a record total of $33.9bn. Retail sales in April 2022 were 36.8% higher than in the lockdown-affected month of April 2020. This was the fourth month in a row of positive m/m sales growth, while the y/y rate of growth was the fastest in a year.
- Two-thirds of retail categories were in positive growth on a month-on-month (m/m) basis. All retail categories grew positively on a year-on-year (y/y) basis. The best growth on both a m/m and y/y basis was in Eating Out and Clothing and Footwear. Every state except NSW saw positive m/m retail sales growth. The best growth was in Western Australia (+2.2%).
- The strong growth in the dollar value of retail sales partly reflects inflation-driven higher retail prices, but increased consumer spending around the Easter holiday period was also a factor driving growth. The retail sales data continues to be at odds with the share price performance of anything and everything to do with the consumer discretionary sector. Forward looking? Or over-reacting?
I feel the need: Eating out and apparel categories grew fastest
All major retail sales categories were in growth in April 2022 compared to April 2021. The strongest y/y growth, however, was in Eating Out (+14.7%) and Clothing and Footwear (+14.7%).
On a m/m basis, these two categories were also the best performers (+3.3% and 3.1% respectively). This suggests that Australians were getting back to socialising in April after extended period of COVID lockdown.
I was inverted: Department stores and household goods in negative territory
The volatile department store sector was among the worst performing on a m/m basis in April (down 2.5%), having been the best performer in March.
Household goods, another strong performer in March, underperformed in April (down 2.7%). On a y/y basis, the slowest growth was in department stores (+5.4%).
Keeping up foreign relations: Australia outperforming UK and US
Accelerating retail sales in Australia in April contrasts with a very negative performance in the UK last month.
Retail sales there fell 6.1% y/y. The picture is rather different in the US, where sales growth accelerated slightly to +8.2% y/y, only just below Australia.
Figure 1: Australian retail sales growth compared to the US and the UK
Retail sales growth (y/y, sa) in the UK, the US and Australia. Source: ONS, US Census Bureau, ABS, Morgans.
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