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December retail sales slump after big Black Friday spend

Australian consumers brought forward retail spending into the November sales period, weighing down total turnover for the month of December.

Jan 30, 2024, updated Jan 30, 2024
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Photo supplied

Australian Bureau of Statistics head of retail statistics Ben Dorber said “the evolving seasonal pattern” is becoming more clear on the release of retail turnover figures for the month of December 2023, demonstrating a 2.7 per cent decline in spending nationally.

That monthly dip was more pronounced in South Australia which experienced a 2.9 per cent decline in total retail sales in December, compared to a 1.9 per cent rise the month prior.

It represents changing consumer preferences according to Dorber, who said: “the large fall in retail turnover in December was caused by a fall in discretionary spending”.

“Consumers brought forward some of their usual December spending to November to take advantage of Black Friday sales,” he said.

“The shift in spending from December to November reflects the growing popularity of Black Friday sales and the impact of cost-of-living pressures, with consumers seeking out bargains and taking advantage of discounts in November.”

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South Australians especially spent big on Black Friday sales, registering the largest rise of 2.8 per cent in retail spending in November 2023 per ABS figures.

Data from the Adelaide Economic Development Agency (AEDA) backed this up, with Black Friday sales in the Adelaide CBD greater than what was recorded on Boxing Day last year.

The ABS today said turnover fell in all the non-food industries that had been boosted by Black Friday sales in November. Household goods retailing had the largest fall of 8.5 per cent, followed by department stores (down 8.1 per cent), clothing footwear and personal retail accessory retailing (down 5.7 per cent) and other retailing (down 1.1 per cent).

Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory recorded the largest falls in December retail turnover of 3.8 per cent. They were followed by Victoria (down 3.2 per cent), the Northern Territory (down 3 per cent) and SA. Tasmanian retail turnover was down just 0.3 per cent.

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