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Retail store spending rebounds in January

Spending in retail stores was up 3 per cent in January compared to a year ago, marking one of the biggest annual gains in the Australian economy, according to the Commonwealth Bank’s latest Business Sales Indicator (BSI).

This is despite lower footfall in shopping centres every week of the month compared to the same period last year, according to ShopperTrak.

ShopperTrak measured a 1.9 per cent decline in foot traffic in the first week, a 1.2 per cent decline in the second week, a 10.3 per cent decline in the third week – the week before the Australia Day long weekend – and a 1.9 per cent decline in the final week of January.

The spending increase in the month came after a slow December for many retailers, with some speculating that the success of pre-Christmas sales events, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Singles Day, dampened spending in the following weeks.

CommBank’s BSI report is a measure of economy-wide spending across 19 industry sectors and includes transactions in traditional retail establishments, such as supermarkets, clothing stores and cafes and restaurants.

The index rose 0.6 per cent month-on-month in January, ahead of the 0.4 per cent long-term average. The annual trend sales growth figure fell to a 12-month low of 5.9 per cent, though remained ahead of the long-term average of 5.6 per cent.

The seasonally-adjusted measure of the BSI lifted in January by 1.2 per cent after falling 0.7 per cent in December.

Fourteen of the 19 industries measured in the BSI rose in January, with transportation (3.3 per cent) seeing the highest gain. Spending in clothing stores was down 1.1 per cent compared to a year ago.

All states recorded higher sales in January than the same month last year, with Western Australia seeing the biggest gains at 10.6 per cent. Sales in Tasmania grew 8.1 per cent, while South Australia saw the slowest rise at 3.9 per cent.

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