Australian Annual Retail Sales Rise Most Since January 2008

Australian [B]Retail Sales[/B] continued to trend broadly higher: although receipts added a bit less than expected on a month-to-month basis (0.3% vs. 0.5% forecast), annualized sales grew 6.8% in the year to April, the most since January 2008. Retail activity is likely being supported by fiscal stimulus: the government has provided every Australian with A$950 in cash handouts since March. Sales of household goods outperformed, rising 3.9%. Although consumers’ willingness to commit to bigger-ticket purchases is heartening, it remains to be seen if momentum can be maintained after the fiscal boost is exhausted. Indeed, continued weakness in discretionary spending suggests Australians view the handouts as temporary relief and reflect expectations of lower spending power in the future.