Retail lifts in November on Black Friday’s shoulders

Retail trade figures for the month of November rose 0.9 per cent off the back of a strong Black Friday, according to figures from the Australia Bureau of Statistics. 

The growth follows a muted 0.1 per cent uplift during October. Online retail contributed 7.1 per cent to the total figure, compared to 6.6 per cent the year prior.  

“We have seen strong growth in Black Friday sales, both in areas such as electrical goods and online sales, but also in areas such as clothing and furniture,” said ABS director of quarterly economic wide surveys Ben James.

“While seasonal adjustment removes regular seasonal patterns associated with Black Friday based on prior results, the strong seasonally adjusted rises in a number of subgroups this month shows that the impact of this Black Friday exceeded that of previous years.”

Spending on clothing, footwear and personal accessories rose 3.1 per cent over the month, while department stores saw a 3.4 per cent increase in spending. Household goods retail grew 1.2 per cent, takeaway food saw 0.9 per cent growth, while food retailing was up 0.5 per cent. 

Other retailing was the only subgroup to have seen a decline in spending over the period, with spending on pharmaceutical, cosmetic, toiletry, recreational, newspapers, and books collectively falling 0.5 per cent. 

The Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said the growth was a welcome result and a pleasing rebound after the disappointing figures seen last October. 

“We’ve long thought interest rate cuts, tax rebates and minimum wage rises would spark a rise in spending at some point, and whilst it’s later than we’d hoped we’re nonetheless happy with a big lift in November,” Zimmerman said. 

However, Zimmerman also warned that these figures represent the holiday period prior to catastrophic bushfires engulfed much of the nation.

“During the time between the actual period these data sets cover and the time they’re publicly available, the flow of events obviously continues; and while today’s numbers are reasonably good, we know there’s potentially a good impact coming in the form of the bushfire crisis currently playing out across Australia,” Zimmerman said. 

“None of us know what December of January will look like – although you’d have to expect the fires to have some degree of impact on trading conditions when we actually see those numbers.”

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