As noted by Houses and Holes earlier today, Australian retail sales fell -0.2% in the month of April, which was below consensus estimates of a 0.2% rise.
For me, the most interesting aspect of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) release was the two-speed nature of the result.
First, there was the wide divergence in performance of the various components of retailing, with “food retailing” and “cafes, restaurants and takeaway services” performing relatively strongly, while consumer discretionary purchases, such as “department stores”, “clothing, footwear and personal accessories”, and “household goods retailing” experienced negative growth over the year (see below chart).
It seems that Australia’s status as the fifth most obese nation in the world is safe for now.
Second, due to the commodity boom, there is a huge divergence in Western Australia’s retail sales growth and everywhere elses (see below chart).
Australia’s very own PIIG, Victoria, looks to be fairing particularly badly. Not only are home prices tanking there, but it’s the only state to record negative retail growth over the past year, mostly caused by a very poor April.