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Retail sales still rising : Report

New figures released by the ABS indicate that the number of Australian retail sales rose again in May, marking the industry’s third consecutive monthly gain.

Retail salesThe Australian Bureau of Statistics reported a 0.2 percent, seasonally adjusted, rise in May retail sales, with Australian consumers spending almost $20.2 billion during this period. The rise follows an increase of 0.6 percent in April and a 0.8 percent increase in March.

The area experiencing the strongest growth was Clothing, Footwear & Other Personal Accessory Retailing, which increased by 1.7 percent, followed by the 1.0 percent recorded by Department Stores.

The weak rise in sales figures indicates that the economy is still recovering, Nomura economist Stephen Roberts told Reuters.

“Retail sales are in line with previous expectations, they are running okay-ish, nothing particularly strong and that comes through in the breakdown,” Mr Roberts said.

Mr Roberts also stated that the figures mean that the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is unlikely to raise interest rates this month.

“(The RBA is) absolutely on the fence for July and they are probably going to be there for a few months,” Mr Roberts told Reuters.

ICAP analyst Adam Carr agreed with Roberts, telling Reuters that while the retail numbers were softer than expected, it is encouraging to see that sales were still increasing.

“The retail number was a little bit softer than I expected but it doesn’t change the bigger picture that consumers are still out there spending,” Mr Carr said.

“The RBA is firmly on hold; they’re trying to evaluate the strength of inflation on the backdrop of overblown (international) debt fears,” Mr Carr added.