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Australian retail sales stay frothy in September

SYDNEY — Australian retail sales rose by more than expected in September, confirming that consumers and household budgets remain in relatively good shape despite a massive jump in interest rates.

Retail turnover rose 0.6% in September, beating the rise of 0.4% expected by economists, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Monday. That marked the ninth consecutive rise, following a 0.6% expansion in August and a 1.3% increase in July.

The solid data comes a day ahead of a Reserve Bank of Australia policy meeting Tuesday, where the central bank’s board is expected to announce a further 25-basis-point rise in interest rates, taking the official cash rate to 2.85%.

The RBA has raised rates at a record pace since May, delivering a string of 50-basis-point increases before slowing the pace this month.

Money markets continue to price in a peak for the cash rate well above 3.0%.

Consumers remain cashed up as they continue to run down the savings built up during the pandemic, while the job market is still tight, with unemployment near its lowest level in close to half a century.

Food retailing rose 1.0% in September, while cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services climbed 1.3% from August, the ABS said.

Many retailers remained open for the National Day of Mourning after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, an additional one-off public holiday in September, and this boosted spending on food, alcohol and dining out, the ABS added.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing had the largest percentage rise, up 2.0% following a large fall of 2.3% in August. Other retailing also rose, up 0.2%. Household goods retailing fell 0.8%, a slight decrease after last month’s large rise of 2.6%, the ABS said.

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