Published on Jun 14, 2016

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Each month a range of key economic indicators are released by federal and state agencies, from tourism stats to the latest in market research.

Here’s a breakdown to help businesses stay informed and up to date with new developments, trends and opportunities.

The National Accounts

The March quarter national accounts contained a surprise boost to GDP growth, rising 0.9 per cent for the quarter and bringing annual growth to a respectable 3.2 per cent.  Growth was bolstered by strong export numbers, driven by the commodities market, which had some analysts concerned about the structural sustainability of the figures.

However, it appears to have hit the right note with Australians as the ANZ-Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index grew by 3.2 per cent following the announcement.  This means we could expect to see stronger spending in the retail sector through June.

Retail sales

Retail sales inched ahead slightly again in April 2016, up 0.2 per cent from March, and up 3.4 per cent year on year.  The strongest growth was seen in NSW, with a 0.3 per cent rise.  Across Australia, the clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing sector posted the highest growth at 0.8 per cent.  Department stores lost ground, posting a decrease of 0.1 per cent.

Employment

Labour force figures for April 2016 show the unemployment rate remained steady at 5.7 per cent seasonally adjusted.  An estimated 11,917,200 people were employed during April, with nearly 11,000 jobs added to the economy, representing a year on year growth of 2.1 per cent.

Within the jobs numbers was a shift from full time to part time employment.  Full-time employment decreased 9,300 to 8,165,600 and part-time employment increased 20,200 to 3,751,600.

Tourism

In April 2016 Australia welcomed 670,000 short term overseas arrivals.  As reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, this represents a year on year increase of 10.2 per cent.  New Zealand still accounts for the highest number of visitors, making up 19 per cent of total international visitors.

Building approvals

Building approvals in April 2016 reached 19,700, a 2.9 per cent year on year decrease.  However, the value of building approved bounced back with a vengeance following eight consecutive months of losses, rising 18.3 per cent.may graphs

Monetary policy

The Reserve Bank of Australia announced it would leave the cash rate on hold at 1.75 per cent last week.  In his statement, RBA Governor Glenn Stevens cited China’s growth rate, commodity prices and a decline in business investment among the determining factors behind the decision.

“Taking account of the available information, and having eased monetary policy at its May meeting, the Board judged that holding the stance of policy unchanged at this meeting would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and inflation returning to target over time,” Mr Stevens said.

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The wonderful world of research

Roy Morgan released a few interesting findings recently.  More and more Australians are buying cosmetics and skin care online – at least 8 million in any given four-week period.  Trackingcoffee-cup-working-happy-large purchases between April 2014 and March 2016 revealed an increase of 17 per cent in cosmetics purchases and 30 per cent in skin care purchases.  Despite this the value of sale decreased $4 and $6 respectively over the same period.

Meanwhile, instant coffee sales are declining as we ditch the Blend 43 in favour of a barista-made bevvy at the local café.  According to Roy Morgan Research Industry Communications Director Norman Morris, although Nescafe has seen a 32.6 per cent decline in Blend 43 sales, it still remains the instant coffee category leader.

“As we have seen, Australian grocery buyers seem to be turning away from instant coffee, with purchase incidence dropping by 16% over just five years,” Mr Morris said.

“However, on closer inspection, we find that this decline is not so much category-wide, as the result of Nescafé’s two leading varieties, Blend 43 and Gold Blend, losing popularity. Most of the smaller players have actually experienced moderate growth since April 2011.”