The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported that seasonally adjusted retail sales were $36.5 billion in November 2023, the highest monthly sales number ever reported. This was 2.0% higher than in October 2023 and 2.2% higher than in November 2022. Due to the timing of Black Friday Cyber Monday (BFCM) and the lead-in to Christmas, November is seasonally the biggest sales month of the year. Retailers started their BFCM discounts early in 2023 and ran them for longer, offering even bigger deals than we’ve seen in previous sales periods. This means it is likely some discretionary expenditure was deferred from October to November. We also anticipate that, when they are released on 30 January, the December 2023 sales figures will show a pull forward of sales into November from that month. The strongest performers were Household Goods (especially Electricals and Electronics) and Department Stores.

November 2023 sales up +2.0% month-on-month

Retail sales in November 2023 were up 2.0% on a weak October (which itself saw sales down 0.4% on the previous month). BFCM was clearly a success, and so much so that it appears consumers deferred discretionary expenditure they might otherwise have made in October.

Online sales penetration spiked in November, up to 12.7% from an average of 10.6% for the 10 months of 2023 beforehand and 10 bps higher than the 12.6% reported in November 2022. Online sales totalled $4.92 billion, also a new monthly record.

Electrical and Electronic Goods (within the Household Goods category) were the clear standout, with sales in November 14.4% above October. This may be good news for JB Hi-Fi (JBH). Furniture (+9.7%) was also strong, which could be positive for Adairs (ADH), Nick Scali (NCK) and Temple & Webster (TPW).

All major categories of retail sales were in growth on a month-on-month basis, along with almost all sub-categories, with the exception of Hardware (down 0.9%), Takeaway Food (down 0.2%), and Newspapers and Books (down 0.2%).

November 2023 sales up +2.2% year-on-year

Clothing and Footwear sales were flat year-on-year (-0.1% to be precise), but all other major categories reported sales that were higher than in November 2022. Eating Out (+4.4%) was up the most, reflecting the effects of food inflation.

Pharmaceuticals and Toiletries were up 8.6% and Electrical and Electronic Goods were up 3.9%. Moving in the other direction were Newspapers and Books (down 10.8% year-on-year) and Footwear (down 3.7%).

Growth stocks have had a choppy ride since the onset of the pandemic
Source: ABS

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