Australian retail sales jumped the most in nearly five years in November, driven by a binge on IPhone purchases and Black Friday sales.
A customer uses his iPhone 7 to take a photograph of the iPhone X during the global launch of the new Apple product in central Sydney, Australia, November 3, 2017.
The local dollar jumped a third of a USA cent to $0.7874 as the surprising strength helped counter concerns consumers had lapsed into a near-permanent depression.
The ABS has revealed that retail sales climbed 1.2% in November, whilst consumer sentiment has continued to improve and full-time job opportunities soar. The sustainability of the recovery is clouded by record-high debt carried by Australian households, at200 percent of income, and anemic wage growth.
Futures markets 0#YIB; still imply around a 50-50 chance of a hike by September and are not fully priced for a rise from 1.5 percent until February next year.
"The underlying consumer may be more resilient than we previously assumed", said Diana Mousina, a senior economist at AMP Capital.
The retail series also showed rapid growth in online sales, which are only set to take a bigger share as Amazon set up shop late past year and is rapidly expanding its offerings.
National Australia Bank estimates consumers spent A$24 billion online in the year to November, with annual growth running atop 14 percent.
Anecdotal evidence from traditional retailers still suggest they had a better December holiday season than first feared, while surveys found a marked brightening in the consumer mood. Notably, those saying they were "better off" financially picked up to 35 percent, helping offset concerns about slow wages growth.
The ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence started 2018 on a bright note with the headline index climbing 4.7% from mid-December to 122, the highest since November 2013.