Online retail sales double in 18 months

Consumer confidence; Final retail trade; Construction gauge

Retail trade fell by 1.7 per cent in August. Online spending rose by 15.1 per cent.

Consumer confidence rose for the fourth straight week, up by 0.9 per cent to a 12-week high.

The Performance of Construction rose by 14.9 points to 53.3 points in September.

Retail trade

• Retail fell by 1.7 per cent in August to stand 0.7 per cent lower than a year ago. The headline result was published on September 28 but today’s data provides more detail on spending across states, territories and industries.

• Reflecting lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT, spending rose most in Liquor retailing (up 5.3 per cent); Hardware, building and garden supplies retailing (up 3.6 per cent); and Supermarket and grocery stores (up 2.1 per cent).

• Sales at Chain stores and other large retailers fell by 0.6 per cent in August while sales at smaller retailers fell by 4.5 per cent.

• Online spending continues to soar, up 15.1 per cent in August after gaining 14.2 per cent in July and lifting 16.8 per cent in June. Online spending has doubled in 18 months. This shows the value of a good website and efficient supply chains, especially for smaller retailers.

Consumer sentiment – Week ended October 3

• The weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating rose by 0.9 per cent to a 12-week high of 104.6 (long-run average since 1990 is 112.5). Three out of the five major sub-components rose last week. Confidence in Sydney rose 4.4 per cent and lifted 1.5 per cent in Melbourne as people looked optimistically to the end of lockdowns. Confidence also rose in regional South Australia, while it fell in Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

• Stocks focussed on the ‘reopening’ of the economy continue to lift. Shares in Flight Centre are up 2.3 per cent today and have gained 79 per cent since the recent low on August 20.

Performance of Construction Index – September

• “The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association (HIA) Australian Performance of Construction Index (Australian PCI®) improved by 14.9 points to 53.3 points in September. This indicates a recovery in activity across the construction sector after a sharp plunge in August due to Covid-19 lockdowns across NSW and other states (seasonally adjusted). Results above 50 points indicate expansion in this survey.”

Published by Craig James, Chief Economist, CommSec