The West

Retail sales continue to flatline

The retail sector is continuing to flat line with new figures revealing only a burst of activity by Victorian shoppers kept the nation's malls in the black through April.

In another sign that the overall economy is struggling, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported this morning that retail sales grew by 0.2 per cent through the Easter month.

Sales actually fell by 0.1 per cent in WA, following a 0.8 per cent contraction in March.

Consumer confidence up

The value of sales across WA is now back to the level they were in September last year.

It was a different story in Victoria where sales grew by 0.8 per cent. If not for the strong result in the Garden State, national retail sales would have been negative.

Sales through department stores nationally rose strongly through the month, by 2.9 per cent, but elsewhere sales were soft.

Household goods retailing dropped by one per cent.

There was better news for the economy in the balance of payments results for March.

Australia's current account deficit fell by 52 per cent, or more than $6 billion, after a substantial turnaround in the balance of goods and services.

The country ran a trade surplus of $15.1 billion through the March quarter, a 54 per cent on the previous quarter.

The strong result will add 1.4 percentage points to tomorrow's March quarter GDP result.

It follows today's ANZ's weekly measure of consumer confidence which rose last week for the first time since mid-April.

Overall confidence rose by 2.9 per cent but ANZ cautioned that the detail of the survey was not as positive.

Perceptions of financial situation compared to a year ago, which most closely correlates with household spending, fell by 3.1 per cent over the past week.

This index is now down by 15 per cent over the past three months, suggesting retail spending could soften in the short term.

The West Australian

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