Spending in department stores rose 1.9 per cent in July. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui
Consumer spending continued to pick up in July, but at a slower pace than in June, according to figures out on Thursday.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics said retail turnover for the month rose by 0.4 per cent, seasonally adjusted, following a 0.6 per cent rise in June. This came after a 0.3 per cent drop in May 2014.
The largest contributor to the rise was cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.4 per cent) followed by food retailing (0.5 per cent), department stores (1.9 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.1 per cent). These were partially offset by falls in other retailing (-0.6 per cent) and household goods retailing (-0.2 per cent).
Thursday's shopping estimates, gleaned from the latest survey of a sample group of retailers, confirm recent private sector business and consumers data pointing to a slight pick-up in activity following a weak June quarter, partly blamed on the unpopular May budget and the slow start to winter.
The 0.4 per cent increase was in line with analysts' forecasts.
ANZ economist Katie Hill said rising consumer confidence and "a potential boost from schoolkids bonus payments" may have contributed to the July advance.
"Some of the strength may also reflect higher prices, with growth in surveyed retail prices rising sharply recently," she said.
In seasonally adjusted terms, New South Wales made the greatest contribution after a rise of 0.7 per cent, followed by Victoria (0.6 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (2.6 per cent), South Australia (0.4 per cent) and Queensland (0.1 per cent). These rises were partially offset by falls in the Northern Territory (-2.3 per cent), Western Australia (-0.1 per cent) and Tasmania (-0.4 per cent).
The trend estimate - which smooths out seasonal variations - of Australian retail turnover rose 0.1 per cent in July following a rise of 0.2 per cent in June.
Year-on-year, turnover rose 5.2 per cent in trend terms.