Monday, June 17, 2024

April retail sales record 4.2% year-on-year growth 

Shoppers spent more than $35.2 billion across the country in April.

Australian retail turnover was unchanged (0.0 per cent) in April 2023, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This follows a 0.4 per cent rise in March 2023 and 0.2 per cent rise in February 2023.

ABS Head of Retail Statistics Ben Dorber says the slowdown in retail spending seen since the start of the year has continued in April.

“Retail turnover has plateaued over the last six months as consumers spent less on discretionary goods in response to cost-of-living pressures and rising interest rates. Spending was again soft in April but was boosted by increased spending on winter clothing in response to cooler and wetter than average weather across the country,” Mr Dorber said.

Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing (+1.9 per cent) and departments stores (+1.5 per cent) were the only retail categories to rise in April.

Households goods retailing (-1.0 per cent) recorded its third straight monthly fall in turnover, while other retailing remained unchanged.

Food-related spending was down this month, with falls in both cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.2 per cent) and food retailing (-0.1 per cent). Food retailing recorded its first fall following 13 straight monthly rises.

“The modest fall in food-related spending comes after a period of consistent growth driven largely by high food inflation,” Mr Dorber said.

“Spending at cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services remains at a particularly high level despite the fall in April, with turnover up 13.3 per cent compared to this time last year.”

“Spending has also been boosted by the return of large-scale sporting and cultural events.”

As discretionary consumer spending continues to slow, retail sales recorded 4.2% year-on-year growth in April, bolstered by cafes, restaurants and takeaway.

The most significant year-on-year sales increases were for cafes, restaurants and takeaway (up 13.2%). Department stores (up 6.5%) food (up 6.2%) and clothing, footwear and accessories (up 4.9%) also showed modest growth.

Other retailing (books, sport and camping, cosmetics) spending increased by 0.2% while household goods declined year-on-year by 4.9%.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra says while sales are slowing, several categories showed reasonable sales growth year-on-year, especially amid a cost-of-living crisis.

“Cost-of-living pressures are the greatest current concern for retailers and their customers and this continues to affect retail sales – a trend we expect to see continue in the coming months,” Mr Zahra said.

“While the numbers are still positive – the slowdown in retail spending is certainly already in effect and when you factor in price increases these results are having an impact on margins,” he said.

“Year-on-year spending on household goods continues to decline, but this also reflects the bumper trading in this category during the pandemic years.

“It’s good to see restaurants and cafes continue to do well. However, we are mindful that price increases are also having an impact and will be putting pressure on margins,” Mr Zahra said.

CATEGORY APRIL 2022 APRIL 2023 CHANGE
Food $13.143 billion $13.969 billion +6.2%
Household goods $6.021 billion $5.723 billion -4.9%
Clothing, footwear, accessories $2.871 billion $3.014 billion +4.9%
Department stores $1.798 billion $1.916 billion +6.5%
Cafes, restaurants, takeaway $4.674 billion $5.295 billion +13.2%
Other $5.270 billion $5.353 billion +0.2%
Total $33.837 billion $35.262 billion +4.2%

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