Retail sales in Australia jump in March – preliminary data | WSAU News / Talk 550 AM99.9 FM
By Swati Pandey
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian retail sales beat expectations in March as soaring house prices boosted consumer confidence while reopening state borders allowed cash-in households to splurge again in trips.
Sales rose 1.4% in March from February, beating expectations of a 1% gain, according to preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Wednesday.
Retail revenue of A $ 30.72 billion ($ 23.71 billion) was up 2.3% from March last year, just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Household consumption in recent months has been driven by soaring house prices, government social benefits, record borrowing costs and rising employment – all of which have boosted consumer confidence.
Wednesday’s data supports the view that Australia’s A $ 2 trillion economy is on solid footing, although the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will wait for inflationary pressures to emerge before considering increases interest rate.
Despite the strong March turnover, sales values fell 0.1% in the first quarter compared to the previous three-month period, implying that “retail consumption and, by extension, household spending will not contribute significantly to economic growth in the March quarter, ”said Callam Pickering, economist at Indeed.
“These retail figures do not change the outlook for monetary policy,” Pickering added.
“Downside risks to the retail sector could even slow the pace of the labor market recovery for the remainder of the year.”
The Australian dollar fell 0.1% to $ 0.7718, moving away from a one-month high of $ 0.7816 reached on Tuesday.
Data on Wednesday showed Victoria and Western Australia led the gains, after sales were hit in February due to brief coronavirus lockdowns in both states.
Cafes, restaurants and take-out food services led the increases, led by Victoria and Western Australia. Retailing of clothing, footwear and personal accessories, as well as department stores were also bullish, the data showed.
ABS will release the final February sales estimate on May 10.
(1 USD = 1.2958 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Ana Nicolaci da Costa)