The value of Australian retail trade rose 0.3 per cent in April to $19.351 billion (at current prices, seasonally adjusted), up from $19.296 billion in March, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show.
The median market forecast of economists had been for a seasonally adjusted rise of 0.5 per cent in the month of April.
Economists put the extra spending down to cash handouts from the federal government’s stimulus packages.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia senior economist John Peters said retail sales were still benefiting from the fiscal stimulus packages.
“Retail sales were pretty much in line with market [forecasts],” Mr Peters said.
“It follows on from that 2.2 per cent rise we had in March and it is certainly showing that the economic stimulus package was still boosting spending.”
Mr Peters said the cash handouts continued to prop up the retail sector.
“It is certainly enticing consumers to spend a bit,” he said.
“Spending is well above the levels of September last year before the first of the stimulus packages in October.
“In annual terms, it is up 6.8 per cent, which is healthy.
“At the peak of the boom it was about eight to nine per cent, so the growth from the stimulus packages has worked.”
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