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Monday, 9 May 2016
Retail solid if unspectacular
The Retail Trade figures for March did a little better than expectations in rising by 0.4 per cent in seasonally adjusted terms.
Despite the reasonable monthly result, year-on-year growth has slowed to be a bit below the 5-year average.
State versus state
The strong housing markets in Sydney and Melbourne have generally supported household consumption since 2013.
At the state level retail turnover growth has been led through the cycle by New South Wales and Victoria, but now there is some evidence that other states are beginning to shine.
Since a new IKEA was opened in sleepy Canberra in November, the ACT has shot the lights out to lead annual retail turnover growth by a wide margin.
The best industry performers in the month were clothing and footwear (+1.1 per cent) and food (posting +0.6 per cent rebound after some soft readings).
Year-on-year household goods remains the strongest performing industry. However, even here the annual rate of growth in household goods retail has cooled a little in sympathy with the cooling of house price growth.
Overall, the monthly result was solid enough.
Given that March is also a quarter-end, the Q1 retail results in chain volume measures terms were also reported, with volumes being up by +0.5 per cent for the quarter and +2.4 per cent over the year to March.
Assuming that wider household consumption does something similar - and adding this in to the positive net exports result for the first quarter - it seems reasonable to expect that the economy grew at a fair pace in Q1.