May retail sales come in soft

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has released its preliminary retail sales data for May, which recorded only 0.1% growth – well below analyst’s expectations of a 0.4% rise:

Preliminary retail sales

Preliminary retail sales come in soft.

Retail sales were 7.4% higher year over year, with turnover still running way above the pre-COVID trend:

Retail turnover

Retail turnover way above pre-COVID trend.

According to the ABS:

  • May saw offsetting movements at the industry level. Food retailing (1.5%) led the rises, but this was offset by falls in Household goods (-1.0%), and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-1.5%).
  • Coronavirus restrictions in Victoria led to a fall of 1.5% in the state. Victoria saw falls in five of the six industries. The falls were offset by a rise in Food retailing (4.0%), with Supermarket sales particularly strong.
  • Queensland and Western Australia offset the fall from Victoria, both seeing rises of 1.5%.
  • Through-the-year sales rose 7.4% in May 2021 compared to May 2020, following a 25% annual rise in April 2021. Volatile results in through-the-year terms are due to coronavirus impacts, including nationwide restrictions, that impacted retail in 2020.

Full report here.

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