Frugality has reared its head again, with spending taking a tumble in the lead-up to Christmas.
Online shopping took a hit in November, with sales growth easing to its slowest pace on record.
Sales contracted 0.2 per cent in November compared with October, and were just 3.9 per cent higher than a year ago, according to the National Australia Bank online retail sales index on Monday.
It was the slowest monthly and annual growth rate in the history of the series, NAB economists said, and showed a reversal from October when online retail sales rose 11.9 per cent for the year, to a record $16 billion.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank figures on Monday show economy-wide spending also took a tumble in November, mainly dragged down by weakness in government spending.
The Business Sales Indicator (BSI), which tracks credit and debit card transactions at CBA machines, fell by 4.2 per cent in November, seasonally adjusted, with annual growth of 3.1 per cent, well below the long-term average of 6.4 per cent.
But CommSec economists said the BSI headline wasn’t telling the full story.
While economy-wide spending had eased, the weakness was concentrated in government and business services, and retail store sales actually rose in trend terms.
“The latest BSI is in line with the anecdotal evidence from retailers that consumers have left Christmas shopping a little later this year,” CommSec economists said.
“But the indications are that sales activity has picked up pace in the last week.
“Momentum is healthy ahead of the next three pivotal days for retailers.”