Australia Retail Sales Growth Weakens In September

Australia's retail sales growth halved in September reflecting weak consumer spending despite interest rate cuts, official data revealed Monday.

Retail turnover climbed 0.2 percent month-on-month in September, slower than the 0.4 percent increase seen in August. Economists had forecast sales to grow 0.4 percent again.

Other retailing grew 0.8 percent and cafes, restaurants and takeaway services turnover advanced 0.6 percent. Food retailing was up 0.1 percent. These rises were slightly offset by a fall in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing and department stores.

In the third quarter, retail sales dropped 0.1 percent, offsetting a 0.1 percent rise in the preceding period. The quarterly fall was led by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, and department stores.

The decline in real retail sales in the third quarter suggests that consumption growth remained subdued, Marcel Thieliant, an economist at Capital Economics, said. And with the bulk of the tax refunds already paid, the outlook for the fourth quarter isn't great either.

Tom Kennedy, an economist at JP Morgan said while today's data are a disappointment, the firm retained its assessment that disposable income growth linked to fiscal and monetary stimulus will support real spending into year-end and look for a modest acceleration in spending.

The central bank had reduced its key interest rates three times this year. The cash rate, at 0.75 percent is the lowest on record.

Elsewhere, data from ANZ showed that job ads fell 1 percent on a monthly basis in October following a gain of 0.3 percent in September. Job ads were down 11.4 percent from a year ago.

"The ANZ Job Ads series has been pointing to a material slowdown in employment growth for some time; yet employment growth has been remarkably resilient," ANZ Senior Economist, Catherine Birch, said.

"We don't expect it can hold up for much longer though," Birch added.

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