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Australia’s spending slump stops in February

Australia's November online sales surge most in three years

The spending slump in Australian retail has stopped, following the release of figures for February.

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According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian retailers witnessed a rise in turnover of 0.6 percent in February, to $24.45 billion in seasonally adjusted terms, doubling the median economist forecast that was looking for an increase of 0.3%.

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said the February results are promising for the retail sector, following lacklustre sales in December 2017 and January 2018.

“The release of the ABS figures for February show that the spending slump in retail sales has come to an end,” Lamb said.“In seasonally adjusted terms the figures show a rise of 0.6 per cent and this is welcome news following the lacklustre sales recorded in the December and January ABS releases.”

February’s jump was largest percentage increase since November 2017, following January’s disappointing figure, which was revised to show an increase of 0.2%, and originally reported as a gain of 0.1%.

As for the year’s start, the annual increase in sales rose from 2.1% to 3%, the fastest increase since July last year, said the ABS.

The ABS data showed increases across every retail industry, with particularly strong sales in household goods and clothing, footwear, and personal accessories, both recording rises of 1.1 per cent

The best news, however, was the bounce back in sales for department stores, which recorded a rise of 1.5 percent following three consecutive falls.

The results come off the back of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) opting to maintain interest rates at a record low 1.5 percent.

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“It is important that retail does not get complacent following the February figures and the decision by the RBA to keep interest rates on hold should assist in seeing consumer confidence continue to rebound,” added Lamb.

“With no state or federal election due between now and November hopefully we will see a stable environment in the months ahead that leads to solid sales figures.”

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