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December retail trade figures released today show a 3.9 percent drop in spending, suggesting Aussie consumers strained by the cost of living spent big in the sales events in the month prior.

National Retail Association CEO Greg Griffith said overall the statistics are a positive indicator for the sector.

“Retailers and shoppers have shown resilience amongst economic uncertainty. People have continued to spend and celebrate the end of the year and have approached the silly season by taking advantage of the November sales events.

“Even though December’s nosedive breaks an 11-month streak of recorded growth for retail, year-on-year growth has risen by 7.5 percent.” 

Mr. Griffith suggested Aussies are joining the growing trend of pre-Christmas sales events and starting their festive shopping earlier.

“A lot of money that was spent on Christmas celebrations was spent in November, which recorded a 1.7 percent increase for the month.

“However, we must also be aware that inflated costs hidden in the data have been a driver of increased spending, rather than volumes.

“That did not deter shoppers though, as the first holiday season free from lockdowns and restrictions had everyone itching to get out and spend.”

The retail sector is now bunkering down for a slowing of spending to continue for the first half of 2023.

“With the cost of living crisis ongoing, and the Reserve Bank potentially lifting interest rates once again when they meet next week, we consumers will reel in their discretionary spending until inflation declines later this year.”

The National Retail Association is the voice of modern retail, representing more than 60,000 stores across Australia.  It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

Lindsay Carroll is available for interview, contact the NRA media unit on 0467 792 013.