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Thursday 1 June 2017

Retail reawakens after the Cyclone

Retail up sharply in April

After an epic amount of hand-wringing about the reported 0.1 per cent decline in retail turnover in Cyclone-affected March (revised out slightly this month), retail turnover surged 1 per cent higher in April to a new high of $25.9 billion.

Retail turnover is now 3.1 per cent higher over the past year. Still soft, granted, but not quite as dramatically so. 

Around the traps

After an uncomfortably large drop last month, Queenslanders enjoyed April much more as the literal storm clouds receded, and led the charge with a 2.4 per cent increase in the month. 

With the state level figures now righting themselves, it has clearly been the resources states - Western Australia and the Northern Territory - that have pulled back the national averages for consumption.

I'm not sure if people had post-Cyclone parties up the eastern seaboard, but liquor retail was the biggest outperforming industry sub-group in the month, posting a 3.6 per cent gain in turnover. 

There was also some welcome respite for department stores with a 2.5 per cent increase in the month following a truly dismal run. 

Penultimately, cafes, restaurants, and takeaways continue to mop up a record share of disposable incomes.

And finally, online retail accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail turnover this month.

The wrap

The first quarter of 2017 was clearly a sluggish one for the Australian economy.

However, the retail figures at least suggest that the second quarter may have gotten off to a better start, bouncing back strongly after the weather-beaten March.

It will be interesting to see whether coal export volumes can produce similar results.

Here's hoping.