Weakness in the retail sector exacerbated by bushfires: NAB

Weakness in the retail sector exacerbated by bushfires: NAB
Weakness in the retail sector exacerbated by bushfires: NAB

NAB data mapping suggests that the ABS retail trade measure will fall 0.1% m/m in December following a gain of 0.9% in November.

The ABS printed a 0.9% gain in November, while NAB forecast 0.6% (revised to 0.5%). The strong November print is likely a result of the relatively new Black Friday sales bringing forward Christmas spending into November. 

Beyond technical questions around seasonal factors, this points to ongoing weakness in the retail sector amid high consumer debt levels and sluggish wage growth.

It is unlikely that the sector will see a sustained lift any time soon. On the contrary, the catastrophic bushfire season may further damage consumer confidence in January and February.

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Weakness in the retail sector exacerbated by bushfires: NAB

NAB Group Chief Economist Alan Oster said, "the retail sector has numerous fundamental issues; unemployment is set to edge higher, sluggish wage growth and elevated consumer debt continue to dampen consumer sentiment, despite interest rate cuts and higher house and share prices."

"In parallel to our standard mapping equations, we are running an experimental methodology. This alternative methodology forecast a bigger rise in November and an even weaker result in December."

"If anything, our December forecast has downside risk."

"The current bushfire season – underway since September – is a national tragedy. The local economic impact in bushfire-affected areas has been extreme."

"While it is unlikely that the fires were a major influence on the national December retail data, there may be much more substantial second round impacts in January and February," he concluded.

Tags: 
Retail Bushfire

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