Consumer sentiment rose by 2.6% to 111.8 in March 2021 as nationwide COVID-19 suppression and vaccination commencement along with a range of positive economic outlook data buoyed consumer attitudes. The result brings the index back to the recent ten-year high of 112.0 established in December 2020 and marks the sixth consecutive month in optimistic territory. Each of the sub component indices rose, with ‘economy, next 12 months’ (3.7%), ‘finances compared to a year ago’ (2.8%) and ‘economy, next 5 years’ (2.3%) all recording significant increases. The most recent ABS retail sales data released for January 2021 showed a modest increase of 0.5% following a fall in December 2020. The January result was 11.6% higher than January 2020 and means retail sales have topped $30 billion for three months in a row. The majority of states experienced growth in sales in January, with Western Australia (2.1%), Victoria (1.0%), Tasmania (1.0%), and NSW (0.8%) recording the largest increases. Queensland was the exception, with a fall of 1.5% in sales. Sales improved across a number of sub-categories including ‘food retailing’ (1.6%) and ‘other retailing’ (1.4%), however these were partially offset by falls in ‘clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing’ (3.6%) and ‘cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services’ (0.8%). Online retail sales rebounded strongly by 4.0% in January 2021, following a revised contraction of 4.7% in December 2020. Online sales for the twelve months to January 2021 comprised 12.9% of total retail sales during that period, approximately 49.1% higher than the previous corresponding period.
Source: Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Online retail sales