Retail spending is picking up as Australian consumers shake off the federal budget blues.
Retail trade figures for June have beat economists’ expectations, with spending rising 0.6 per cent, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday show.
Figures for the June quarter were also stronger than expected, with spending dipping just 0.2 per cent.
The data show that consumer confidence is recovering from its falls around the time of the May budget, which outlined a raft of tough spending cuts and tax hikes, CommSec chief economist Craig James said.
“People are just getting back to normal and shaking off the budget blues,” he said.
“We’ve had some of the clothing retailers who have had to discount some stock and Aussie consumers have lapped up the bargains, but it’s also the fact that confidence levels have improved.
“It confirms to us that Aussie consumers are coming out of the budget-driven downturn and confidence levels are improving and spending levels are improving.”
Mr James expects the healing process in retail spending to continue in the next couple of months.
National Australia Bank senior economist Spiros Papadopoulos said the improved retail spending figures would give the Reserve Bank a bit more comfort that any negative impact from the budget was temporary.
“We do expect retail sales to be improving but we don’t expect any spectacular growth rates to be going through,” he said.
Mr Papadopoulos said trading conditions for retailers remained pretty weak.
“Over the past 12 months we’ve seen some fairly soft figures, which have been reversed today, but over the next couple of quarters small positive growth in line with annual consumption growth of 2.5 per cent is what we expect to see,” he said.