Cautious consumers hold back spending

Consumers still being cautious with their spending - Newsreel
New retail figures show that Australian shoppers are still being cautious in their spending habits. | Photo: Drazen Zigic (iStock)

Retail spending in Australia remains sluggish as cautious consumers continue to grapple with cost of living pressures.

Seasonally adjusted retail turnover data, released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, showed a rise of just 0.1 percent in April.

This followed a 0.4 percent fall in March 2024 and a 0.2 percent rise in February 2024.

Food spending was particularly subdued with a 0.5 percent fall in general food spending offset slightly by a 0.3 percent increase in cafes, restaurants and takeaway sales.

ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber said the relatively earlier Easter in 2024 and the different timing of school holidays added some volatility in turnover in March and April.

“The fall in food retailing is a partial reversal of last month’s rise of 0.8 percent, where the earlier-than-usual Easter boosted spending, particularly on alcohol,” he said.

“Retailers told us spending on alcohol dropped off as consumers brought purchases forward into March and because they are increasingly opting for cheaper alcoholic products.”

Turnover in most non-food related industries rose in April. Other retailing (up 1.6 percent) had the largest rise in the month followed by household goods retailing (up 0.7 percent) and department stores (up 0.1 percent).

Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing fell by 0.7 percent.

Queensland had one of the weakest April retail results with a fall of 0.2 percent, the second highest drop of the states after Victoria at 0.4 percent.

New South Wales had the largest retail turnover rise at 0.7 percent followed by South Australia with a rise of 0.5 percent.

More details are on the ABS website.