While consumer confidence improved by 2.2% to 95.5 in February, the index remains in pessimistic territory for the sixth consecutive month, with natural disasters and the emergence of the recent global outbreak of coronavirus continuing to have an impact. Traditional retail sales contracted by 0.5% in December (the first contraction recorded in seven months). This should be viewed in the context of strong traditional retail sales in November and the much-quoted “pull forward” of Christmas spending to Black Friday. We note that retail sales in December 2019 were 2.4% higher than December 2018. The 2.0% growth in online retail sales in December compared to the contraction in traditional sales shows that consumers continue to adopt online shopping.
Source: Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Online retail sales