Australian shoppers boost November retail sales to five-month highs

Retailers get a boost from Black Friday sales, as shoppers bring forward Christmas spending

Australian retail sales receive a boost from Black Friday sales

Retail spending rose 0.4 per cent in November, beating market expectations, in a sign that Australians have well and truly embraced the the Black Friday and Cyber Monday discount sales.

"Both of these industries were impacted by strong promotional activity in the November month, including Black Friday sales", the ABS said.

While the November retail sales growth of 0.4 per cent was decent, it was substantially lower than the same period previous year.

This fall is partly due to high sales in November 2017 when there were major mobile phone launches.

Takings at the till dipped by 3 per cent compared to November 2017, dropping further than Bloomberg's 2.4 per cent forecast.

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The ABS noted that it was "highest level" of online retail sales figures it had ever collected.

The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover rose 0.2 per cent in November 2018, following a 0.2 percent rise in October 2018.

The food and beverage industry's monthly sales grew by 1.7 per cent, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The Australian dollar has since spiked over 0.2% to 72 United States cents.

Meanwhile, the sales of food and beverage services increased 2.4 percent year-on-year and 1.7 percent month-on-month.

The slowdown leaves annual sales growth at its lowest levels since around May 2018.

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While, on the surface, the November result was reasonable, the key question now is whether the boost provided by sales late in the month brought forward spending that would normally be seen in December?

Data from the Commonwealth Bank's records of its customers' credit card usage shows sales across November, December and early January were considerably down on past year.

"Retail Sales data around this time of year are particularly interesting as consumer spending patterns have been shifting", says Ray Attrill, Head of FX Strategy at the National Australia Bank.

This news comes after data from ShopperTrak and Citi Research indicated that in-store foot traffic over the Black Friday shopping weekend was down by an estimated eight to nine percent, with online shopping events like Click Frenzy instead luring customers online.

However, strong November results means next month's figures, which includes pre-Christmas and Boxing Day sales, could be lacklustre.

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