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Retail sales flat in July while trade surplus narrows

Sep 07, 2017
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The impact of low wages and high household debt appear to have taken their toll on Australia’s retailers, with a further slowdown in sales in July.

In seasonally adjusted terms retail sales were stagnant, having eased back from a moribund 0.2 per cent growth in June.

The market wasn’t expecting much, but had pencilled in around 0.3 per cent growth into its forecasts.

A number of key sectors —particularly in discretionary retailing — reported shrinking sales.

  • Household goods retailing: -1.7 per cent
  • Department stores: -2.8 per cent
  • Personal accessory retailing: -0.2 per cent

Where growth was reported, it was still fairly weak.

  • Food retailing +0.7 per cent
  • Other retailing +1.3 per cent
  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services +0.2 per cent
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The largest falls were recorded in New South Wales (-0.4 per cent), South Australia (-0.8 per cent), Tasmania (-0.9 per cent) and the Northern Territory (-0.1 per cent), while consumers in Queensland and Victoria were prepared to lash out more.

Trade surplus halved

Trade figures also softened in July with the trade surplus tumbling to just $460 million, down from $888 million in the previous month.

The market had expected a surplus closer to $1 billion, however weaker than expected shipments of key commodities coal, iron ore and gold dragged exports down 2 per cent — outpacing the 1 per cent fall in imports.

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