Shoppers shook off their financial woes to spend up big on the Black Friday sales.
Initial purchasing data from the ANZ indicates that although the amount spent on non-food items on Black Friday (November 24) itself was down slightly from last year, over the sales weekend - including both Black Friday and Cyber Monday - was up 1 per cent from 2022.
ANZ economists Madeline Dunk and Adelaide Timbrell said sales of electronics were particularly strong, up 6 per cent, and shoppers also descended on department stores in numbers, where purchases were 5 per cent higher than a year ago.
Spending on jewellery was also up in November and was higher than in 2022, the ANZ data showed, and the increase in purchases of books, magazines and newspapers that began in early November carried through to the end of the month.
The value of clothes purchases, by contrast, were down significantly, dropping 10 per cent.
The ANZ economists said consumer demand was "holding up reasonably well" considering the squeeze on household budgets from high living costs and rising interest rates.
But economists think the Black Friday sales have brought forward spending rather than increased it, and expect consumer activity to drop sharply in December, much as it did last year.
In 2022, retail turnover jumped by 1.5 per cent in November before contracting by 4.2 per cent in December.
Alexandra Mack co-owns the Ted & Olive Boutique in Wagga Wagga and Kingston in Canberra with her mum Peta Milne.
She said sales increased during Black Friday but "outside of that I would say it has been a little bit steadier in both shops".
At the same time, she expected the lead up the Christmas to be "a good period for us".
"We generally see a peak in our sales at this time, because people still enjoy buying something new for special occasions," she told The Canberra Times.
Markets and many economists expect the sales-driven burst of shopping late last month will not be enough to convince the Reserve Bank of Australia board to raise rates when it meets on December 5.
Evidence of stronger wage growth amid continued weak productivity gains has the central bank concerned about rising unit labour costs.
But the latest consumer price index update, which showed the annual pace of headline inflation dropped to 4.9 per cent in October, has lowered expectations of a pre-Christmas rate hike.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has based its forecast for a continued gradual decline in inflation on the assumption that interest rates have peaked and will begin coming down from the September quarter next year.
Australian retailers had an underwhelming month for sales in October as shoppers hung back to pounce on Black Friday sales.