Consumer sentiment improved by 1.9% in February 2021 following recent positive media on COVID-19 vaccinations and the apparent successful suppression of the latest outbreak in New South Wales paving the way for domestic borders to re-open. Whilst there was a slight decline in January, the February result sees the index at 109.1 which is close to the ten-year high figure reported in December 2020. Four of the five component indices rose, with the largest increase of 6.9% occurring in the ‘economic conditions, next 12 months’ category. The most recent ABS retail sales data released for December 2020 showed a decrease of 4.1% compared to the very strong November 2020, suggesting some pull-forward of Christmas sales into the ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Cyber Monday’ sales in November (a repeat of 2019). All states experienced a decrease in December 2020, with the largest declines occurring in Victoria (6.8%) and New South Wales (4.9%). Whilst December sales were lower than November, at c$30.4 billion they were 9.6% higher than December (and higher than every other month) in 2019, reflecting the strong consumer sentiment recorded in December 2020. Total retail sales for 2020 in its entirety were 6% above 2019. December 2020 online sales were down by 7.1% compared to November and represented 9.1% of total retail sales in the month, compared to 11% in November. Again a reflection of the online sales events in November.
Source: Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Online retail sales