Strong figures come as stores and restaurants experience a sharp drop in customers due to the increase in Omicron cases.
Australian retail sales surpassed forecasts for a second month in November as consumers splashed out on their pent-up savings, a reminder of how well the economy was doing before an explosion of coronavirus cases threw a disaster over Christmas.
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) published on Tuesday showed that retail sales rose by 7.9 per cent in November, contributing to an already excellent rise of 4.9 per cent in October, as a large part of the country came out of a severe pandemic.
It blew away expectations of a 3.9 percent profit and boosted sales 5.8 percent from November last year to a record $ 33.41 billion ($ 24 billion), a major boost to economic growth in the quarter .
Shocked demand and an extended November sales period propelled record sales in clothing, footwear and personal accessories retail, and household goods.
“Consumers have raised Christmas spending to take advantage of sales and reduce delivery and stock availability concerns ahead of the festive season,” said Ben James, ABS’s director of quarterly economic statistics.
some slowdown has always been expected in December, as more and more popular Black Friday sales spending dragged on until November, but the sudden rise of the Omicron tribe proved a whole new burden for the sector.
Supply chain misery
Shops and restaurants saw a self-imposed restriction of consumers as cases rose to more than 100,000 a day, while insulation rules for contacts blew a hole in supply chains and emptied supermarket shelves.
Analysts at Australia and New Zealand Banking (ANZ) say spending on banks’ cards in the first week of January has fallen to its lowest level since the Delta restrictions, with Sydney and Melbourne in particular being hit hard.
ANZ’s latest survey of consumer sentiment published on Tuesday showed a 2.2 percent drop for last week as confidence in the economy hit in the opposite direction.
“The good news is that people are still relatively happy about their own financial circumstances,” said ANZ’s head of Australian economics, David Plank.
“It might fix things for a quick recovery once people have more confidence about health outcomes.”
Households still have a large buffer of savings accumulated during the long constraints, while a strong labor market kept people at work and earned a wage.
This is a big reason why the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) was optimistic that the economy could withstand the Omicron boom, although the speed of its spread still surprised.
Australia also benefits from high prices for its large resource exports, which provided a timely windfall for corporate profits and government tax receipts.
Data from the ABS showed on Tuesday that the country’s trade surplus had reduced to $ 9.4 billion ($ 6.7 billion) in November, but only because the extravagance in domestic spending sucked in more imports.
While exports rose 2 percent during the month, imports rose 6 percent on gains in consumption and capital goods.