On Friday last week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released retail trade data for January 2016.
Over the month retail trade increased by 0.3% which was an improvement from the disappointing no change in trade over December 2015.
Over the past 12 months retail trade has increased by a quite strong 4.0%.
Household goods retailing has been the key driver of increasing retail trade up 6.0% year-on-year with strong increases also recorded for other retailing (4.8%) and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (4.5%).
Year-on-year increases for retail trade for department stores (1.1%), cafes, restaurants and take-away food services (2.1%) and food retailing (3.8%) have been comparatively more moderate.
Overseas arrivals and departures data was released earlier this week for January 2016 by the ABS.
The data showed that over the past 12 months there were 675,530 permanent settler arrivals which was -3.4% lower year-on-year and -1.3% lower than its decade average.
There were also 407,160 permanent and long-term departures, up 7.0% year-on-year and at its highest level on record.
Subsequently, there were 268,370 net permanent arrivals to Australia over the year which was -15.8% lower year-on-year and at its lowest annual level since April 2007.
While permanent settler arrivals are falling, short-term arrivals are at record highs with 7,514,700 arrivals over the past 12 months which is 8.6% higher over the past year.
Clearly the lower Australian dollar is proving to be a boon for the tourism sector.
Westpac and the Melbourne Institute released their monthly consumer sentiment data for March earlier this week.
The Consumer Sentiment Index was recorded at 99.1 points, down from 101.3 points in February.
The result indicates fairly neutral sentiment conditions with optimism slightly outweighed by pessimism.
The data includes the quarterly release of wisest place for savings.
Interestingly, only 14.7% of respondents felt real estate was the wisest place for savings, down from 23.4% in December and at its lowest level since December 2011.
The fall in the attractiveness of real estate is probably linked to the ongoing discussions about negative gearing and the possibility of changes if the Labor Party is elected at this year’s Federal election.
Over the week ending March 6, 2016 there were 2,304 auctions held across the capital cities with CoreLogic collecting 2,089 results, accounting for almost 91% of all auctions held.
The final auction clearance rate for the week fell from 71.4% the previous week to 68.6% with the number of auctions last week lower than the 2,701 auctions the previous week.
Last week, across Melbourne, the largest capital city auction market, 1,236 auctions were held with a clearance rate of 72.1%, although clearance rates fell they remained above 70%.
Sydney’s clearance rate fell over the week, down to 68.7% from 72.1% over the previous week.
Both Melbourne and Sydney had their lowest clearance rates since the end of January when there were few auctions in either city.
Adelaide was the only capital city in which auction clearance rates increased.
Meanwhile Adelaide is the only smaller auction market in which there were more auctions last week than at the same time a year ago.
Note that sales listings are based on a rolling 28 day count of unique properties that have been advertised for sale.
Relative to the same period last year, the number of new listings over the past twenty eight days is 1.7% higher on a national basis and the total volume of stock on the market is -1.7% lower than a year ago. Across the combined capital cities, new listings are -0.3% lower relative to last year, while total listings are 2.7% higher.
On a city by city basis, new listings are higher than last year in Brisbane (+7.7%), Adelaide (+11.6%) and Perth (+0.4%) while they are lower elsewhere.
In terms of the total stock available for sale, buyers in Sydney (+8.1%), Adelaide (+6.0%), Perth (+12.1%) and Darwin (+10.0%) have more stock to choose from than a year ago.