Refunds Surge In Post-Christmas Period

It seems not everyone received exactly what they were hoping for during Christmas, as the spike in retail refunds shows in the last 30 days. Total refunds jumped by 9.20% compared to the 30 days prior to Christmas. This is typical behaviour for this time of year when consumers return unwanted or unexpected Christmas presents, however the jump in volume suggests an underlying dissatisfaction with gifts received.

The refund rate for 2015 shows a dramatic increase on the same period in 2014, with a 29.41% increase in total refunds, suggesting that even more people were unhappy with their gifts than in the previous year. The Sporting Goods sector contributed the most to this increase posting a refund figure of over 30%.

Retail Sales Lift as Furniture Sector Rebounds

In a welcome positive finish to the first month of 2016, retail sales showed strong growth last week with a lift of 8% on the previous week. This figure was largely thanks to a significant turnaround by the Furniture sector, with a 21.15% lift on the previous week. Those who follow the Index performance each week would recall that the Furniture sector saw a sharp decline 2 weeks ago, making last week’s performance even more relevant.

The Fashion sector continued its roller-coaster ride with an 8.05% decrease in sales performance from the previous week. This sector has grown overall over the last few months but has experienced tumultuous weeks of trading, rarely stringing together two consistent weeks of sales. It’s worth making mention of the Sporting Goods sector which grew by over 6% again last week, giving more good news to this often over-looked but very consistently performing sector. 

Santa Brings Christmas Cheer To Retailers

Retailers across the country will be breathing a sigh of relief as the pre-Christmas spending starts to ramp up in earnest. Last week saw a 9.15% rise in sales growth from the previous week, with growth showing in all retail sectors. The predictable increases occurred in Fashion and Accessories (14.43%) and Sporting Goods (18.20%), showing that consumes are definitely starting to buy their Christmas presents. The Furniture and Homewares sector showed a modest increase of 1.46%, which is in line with expectations for this time of year.

The Average Basket Size increased last week by 5.69%, indicating that slightly higher value items are going into the shopping basket. The Average Units Per Transaction also increased by 3.38% suggesting that shoppers are adding an extra few gifts to their trolleys.   

Furniture Sales Drag Down Retail Index

Sales in the Furniture sector took a sharp dive last week finishing down by over 30% compared to the previous week. Victoria performed best in this negative environment, falling by just 0.64%, while sales in New South Wales declined be even more than the National average.

Sales on credit have increased by 2.21% in the lead up to Christmas, with a corresponding decrease in sales made on cash or debit, suggesting that consumers are prepared to tap into credit as a payment source during the Festive season. Consumers in Western Australia appear more likely to take advantage of credit when it comes to retail spending with 64.57% of purchases made using this payment method in the last 7 days, compared to Victoria with just 49.32%.    

Fashion Sales Slip Into Negative

Overall retail sales have dropped unexpectedly by 3.29%, compared to the previous weeks positive result. Retailers will be hoping that this is the calm before the Christmas storm and that the next 3 weeks of trading will be more solid. The Fashion & Accessories sector was the biggest contributor to the negative result, with a significant downturn seen last week.

Queensland bucked the negative trend in the Eastern states with a 1.8% increase in Overall Sales. Interestingly, the Fashion & Accessories sector posted a positive gain in this state of 6.56%, proving that the individual regions often experience very different trading results to the overall National figures. 

Consumer buying behaviour is showing some signs of predictability leading up to Christmas, with the number of Layby purchases increasing by over 27% in the last week. Shoppers are also spending slightly more with average basket size increasing by 4.89% in the last week. 

Retail Sales Continue Positive Growth

The good news continues for Retailers with a significant increase in sales growth last week, compared with the previous week. Sales lifted by 9.99% nationally with all sectors except Furniture & Homewares posting positive results. The Fashion & Accessories sector was the clear winner with a lift in sales growth of over 30% week on week, perhaps inspired by the changing weather conditions as we move into Summer. 

NSW saw one of the smallest contributions to growth, with 2.81%, while most other states recorded growth figures of close to or over 10%. Both Western Australia and the ACT finished the week with negative figures of 6.70% and 11.05% respectively. The weeks leading up to the Christmas trading period will answer some questions about the health of the economy in the different states of Australia with results sure to be mixed on a state by state basis.   

Furniture Sales Show Positive Gains

Furniture Sales was the shining light in what was an otherwise negative result for Retail last week. The Furniture & Homewares sector posted an increase in sales performance of 8.05%, which eclipses the performance in the same week in 2014 of just 5.29%. Western Australia and South Australia were the star performers, each posting a positive gain of over 20% for the week. 
 
Interestingly, Victoria was the only state to show a positive gain (3.63%) in Overall Retail Sales, with all other states recording negative results. Most of these gains were seen in the last week of the month.  

Retail Sales Bounce Back

Retail Sales have bounced back, posting a solid gain of 6.80% overall, after the previous week saw a sharp downturn of 12.69%. This is encouraging news for Australian retailers as we head into the pre-Christmas period which many retailers rely on for a large part of their yearly revenue. The sales peaks and troughs experienced throughout the year should begin to smooth with some consistently positive weeks of trade leading into the end of year holiday period.

The Furniture & Homewares sector recovered all of the territory it lost in previous weeks posting an impressive 20.73% gain from the previous week, ending a run of negative results. Sporting & Recreational goods also ended the week positively, up 12.86% on the previous week. The Fashion & Accessories sector will be hoping that the lead up to the Melbourne Cup brings them a surge in sales in their vertical.