Earlier today, Houses & Holes’ posted a summary of today’s retail sales figures for the month of December, which registered a seasonally-adjusted -0.2% fall over the month versus an expected 0.3% rise. October and November’s figures were also revised down to -0.1% and -0.2% respectively, from 0.0% and -0.1% previously. Hence, it was the third straight month that retail sales fell.
Retail sales are now decelerating strongly following the spike induced by one-off compensation payments for the introduction of the carbon tax, with annual sales growth falling to only 2.3% from 2.7% in November (see next chart):
The southern states of Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania are more or less experiencing a retailing recession, with all three states recording negative sales growth over the year. By contrast, the mining states/territories continue to power along (see next chart).
Looking at volumes only, retail sales were basically flat over the December quarter and up by 2.6% over the year, with most segments experiencing decreases in sales volumes over the quarter, but increases over the year (see next chart).
However, the southern states are experiencing a retailing recession in volume terms as well, with Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania each experiencing at least two consecutive quarters of negative sales growth (see next chart).
When adjusted for population growth, retail sales have remained essentially flat since December 2007, which followed 15 years of strong growth (see next chart).
Clearly, retail sales are a long way off the heady days pre-GFC, when sales were juiced by high rates of credit growth and ever-rising asset prices.