by Alan Thornhill
Australians are starting eat out – and shop for clothes – again.
That produced a 0.5 per cent rise, in the nation’s previously weak retail sales in May.
The Bureau of Statistics also reports that Australia’s engineering construction sector growing rapidly, reporting a 13.3 per cent rise in the March quarter and a 35.6 per cent rise over the year.
The nation’s services sector is also reporting stronger sales.
This news follows signs of a resurgence in Australia’s weak building industry, that emerged yesterday, when the Bureau reported a 27.3 per cent jump in home building approvals in May.
The strong rise in retail sales, also in May, followed a rise of just 0.1 per cent in April.
The Bureau reported that cafe, restaurants and takeaway food services had been the main drivers of this, seasonally adjusted, retail growth.
These stores reported a 1.4 per cent rise in their trade, during May.
Significantly, though, sales in department stores, clothing and accessory stores and shoe shops also rose.
Australia’s department stores have been hit particularly hard by slow sales over recent times.
The Bureau said food retailing had been the only industry to see a reversal in May, and that had been slight, just 0.1 per cent.
It noted, too, that over the longer term food sales had been a strong contributor to retail growth.
These generally bright figures, though, still do not tell the whole story.
A new survey, for example, suggests that public sector spending, on road, rail and power projects is collapsing.
Mining appears to be dominating the growth in engineering construction.
But another survey, by the Australian Industry Group and the Commonwealth Bank, shows growth in new orders and sales in Australia’s services sector, which is one of the nation’s biggest employers.
However, it notes, the sector is still slightly short of being in “expansionary territory.”
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
Saturday May 18
The Dow Jones Index rose 121.18 points to 15,354.40
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