Complaints by retailers about a poor Christmas have been borne out with new figures showing a 0.2 per cent fall in the value of sales through December.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics today reported the fall follows a similar sized drop in November and a 0.1 per cent fall in October.
But the falls are being driven by Australians buying less food which is the largest single retail area.
Food sales fell by 0.1 per cent in December following a similar sized drop in November.
The other retailing sector dropped by 2.8 per cent while sales through cafes and restaurants dropped by 0.1 per cent.
However, there was an increase of 0.8 per cent in household goods, the same sized increase for department stores while clothing and footwear sales jumped by 2.1 per cent.
The figures revealed that the actual volume of goods sold lifted by 0.1 per cent, a sign of the price discounting going on in the retail sector.
In WA, total retail sales were down by 0.3 per cent. Only NSW (down by 0.7 per cent) and the ACT (down 0.8 per cent) suffered larger falls.
WA's drop was driven by a 4 per cent fall in the cafes and restaurants sector and an 18.1 per cent collapse in newspaper and book sales.