Australian Retail Sales: August 2023 - Treading water

About the author:

Alexander Mees
Author name:
By Alexander Mees
Job title:
Head of Research
Date posted:
28 September 2023, 7:00 AM

  • The Australian consumer appears to have run out of steam. Retail sales for August were up just 0.2% month-on-month (m/m) which was slightly below consensus expectations of +0.3%.
  • The modest change announced today follows a 0.5% m/m increase in July and a 0.8% m/m decline in June 2023. Compared with August 2022, retail sales were up 1.5% year-on-year (y/y), which was below the rate of inflation (5.2%), meaning retail turnover was down in real terms. Recent data from Westpac-Melbourne Institute showed that consumer sentiment ‘has languished at deeply pessimistic levels for more than a year’. It is the worst period of sustained weak consumer sentiment since the early 1990s.
  • The ABS commented that ‘the modest rise in August shows consumers continued to restrain their retail spending’. The strongest growth was in Clothing & Footwear (+1.3%), reflecting the early arrival of warm springlike weather and additional promotional activity around Afterpay Day. Homewares were the weakest category.

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