Australian Retail Sales Sharply Lower in August

By James Glynn Features Dow Jones Newswires

Australian retail sales fell in August, continuing a spell of unexpected weakness that could weigh on economic growth in the third quarter.

Continue Reading Below

Retail sales fell 0.6% in August from July, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday, compared with a 0.3% rise expected by economists. The result was dragged down by slumping sales at cafes and weaker demand for household goods, the ABS said.

The July result was also revised down to a 0.2% decline from a preliminary flat reading, which together with the weaker August result could soften gross domestic product growth in the July-August quarter.

The Australian dollar fell immediately after the result.

Concerns linger over the outlook for spending, with Australians battling record household debt, and the worst incomes growth in a quarter of a century.

The International Monetary Fund recently highlighted Australia in a global report on financial stability, warning that the high debt burden could slow growth.

Continue Reading Below

Morgan Stanley issued a report this week that said Australia could decouple from the global economic recovery due to its debt constraints.

Still, Australia's job market has picked up this year, offering hope that wages will soon rise, helping consumers to bring down debt.

Write to James Glynn at james.glynn@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 04, 2017 20:56 ET (00:56 GMT)