Australian retail sales fell 2.7 per cent in the final month of 2023 as Black Friday sales brought festive spending forward.
In November, the Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a revised 1.6 per cent rise fuelled by the snowballing popularity of the Cyber Weekend sales.
The growth in November followed a 0.2 per cent fall in October.
Most economists expected a weaker end to the year to reflect evolving spending patterns and financial struggles.
ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber said the large fall in retail turnover in December was caused by a fall in discretionary spending.
“Consumers brought forward some of their usual December spending to November to take advantage of Black Friday sales,” Mr Dorber explained.
“This shift in spending from December to November reflects the growing popularity of Black Friday sales and the impact of cost-of-living pressures, with consumers seeking out bargains and taking advantage of discounts in November.”
In trend terms, retail turnover rose a lacklustre 0.1 per cent, suggesting spending is relatively subdued when looking through the choppy Christmas period.
All non-food categories were down after the Black Friday boost, with substantial falls in household goods retailing – down 8.5 per cent – and department stores – declining 8.1 per cent.
Clothing footwear and personal accessory retailing sank 5.7 per cent, and other retailing fell 1.1 per cent.
Turnover fell 1.1 per cent in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, with food retailing up 0.1 per cent as the only industry posting growth.