Christmas retail sales disappoint

The ABS has released preliminary retail sales for December, which fell sharply from November and missed analysts’ expectations:

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 4.2% (-$1,329.9m) from November 2020 to December 2020.
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 9.4% in December 2020 compared with December 2019.
  • Following the November rise, all industries except for Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell.
  • Household goods retailing led the falls (-9%), following the Black Friday sales, and new product releases, that boosted turnover in November.
  • Similarly, Other retailing, Department stores, and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, saw falls after reporting large rises in November.
  • Food retailing fell 2%, with sales across the Food industry down in Victoria and New South Wales in line with restrictions on Christmas gatherings.
  • Victoria led the falls by state, down 7% after a 22% rise in November. New South Wales saw a fall of 5%, with localised trading restrictions imposed in parts of Sydney impacting turnover.
  • In seasonally adjusted current price terms, the preliminary estimate shows the December quarter rose 2.4%. This follows a rise of 7.0% in the September quarter. Quarterly volume estimates will be included in the final release on 5 February 2021.

Economists tipped only a 1.5% monthly decline in retail sales.

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