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Business & Finance

Australia retail sales surge by a record in Nov

  • NAB's Strickland noted that news on the virus has been encouraging with community transmission cases falling to eight on Tuesday from 15 on Monday and 30 the day before.
22 Dec 2020

SYDNEY: Australian retail sales soared by a record 7% in November from the month before, preliminary data showed on Tuesday, led by pre-Christmas shopping in a sign fourth-quarter economic growth will rebound strongly.

Annual turnover jumped 13.2%, led by the country's second-most populous state of Victoria following the easing of coronavirus restrictions, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reported.

Tuesday's solid figures suggest the A$2 trillion ($1.5 trillion) economy is ending 2020 with surprising momentum and fourth-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) could be stronger than expected, economists said.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) expects annual GDP to shrink 4% this year though recent data suggests a much smaller contraction.

The ABS will release its final estimate on Jan. 11.

Economists cautioned a fresh wave of coronavirus infections in the most populous state of New South Wales could cast a pall over the Christmas holiday period.

However, if the virus is controlled, "it is likely there will only be a mild impact in aggregate on retail sales and the broader Australian economy," said Tapas Strickland, Sydney-based economist for National Australia Bank.

In a sign Sydney's spike in COVID-19 cases was already hurting, a gauge of consumer confidence fell 2% last week, ANZ-Roy Morgan survey showed on Tuesday. In Sydney, confidence was down 5.3% in its sharpest weekly drop since July, the weekly data showed.

NAB's Strickland noted that news on the virus has been encouraging with community transmission cases falling to eight on Tuesday from 15 on Monday and 30 the day before.

NAB is predicting a "strong" Q4 GDP "even if there is a decline associated with the unwind of Black Friday sales and from some impact from the Sydney virus cluster," Strickland said.