Australian retail sales bounced in October after months of lukewarm demand, a bright sign for spending in the upcoming holiday season as Amazon.com Inc opened its doors for business Down Under.
The retail behemoth started taking online orders on Tuesday, ending breathless speculation about its arrival in the world’s twelfth biggest economy, reports Reuters.
Tuesday’s data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed retail sales rose 0.5 per cent in October from the previous month, the strongest since May.
September sales had only inched up by a revised 0.1 per cent.
Sales were up, above expectations for a 0.3 per cent, across every sector with clothing and eating out particularly strong, the data showed.
Australia’s A$26 billion ($19.8 billion) brick-and-mortar retailers have been struggling amid cutthroat competition and as relentless price discounts fail to entice customers facing paltry wage growth and mountains of debt.
There are fears Amazon’s entry could further stifle traditional retailers and suppress prices and inflation.
Oddly, the ABS does not yet include online data in its headline retail series even though they account for more than 7.0 per cent of total sales.
That means Amazon will not feature in the monthly figures, though internet sales are easily the fastest growing segment of the market.
The ABS does have an experimental estimate of online retail turnover and that jumped 11.3 per cent in October to almost match last year’s Christmas sales in dollar terms.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) expects Amazon to inject new life into the country’s sluggish retail sector, helping local chains expand their customer base.