Australian retail trade contracted 0.6% in May, according to the latest ABS data.
Seasonally adjusted retail turnover fell 0.6% during the month to $20.61 billion, the ABS said. This followed a rise of 1.2% in April.
The decline was driven by a 1.2% slump in New South Wales and Victoria, but turnover fell or stayed flat in every state and territory but NT – which gained just 0.1% - and WA – where turnover grew 0.8%.
Department stores, clothing, footware and personal accessory retailing took the biggest hits, with food and household goods also declining.
But turnover increased in the eating out sector, including cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services.
In trend terms, turnover grew 0.3% for the third straight month in May, and was up 2.4% on the prior year. Total turnover grew to $20.67 billion.
Based on this set of estimates, food, household goods, department store and personal accessory retailing all gained – but none of these sectors grew more than 0.4%.
Only NSW and ACT declined in trend terms, although no state gained more than 0.8%.
Financial observers have long been decrying Australia's depressed consumer sentiment, blaming concerns over interest rates and the economy, coupled with cautious borrowing behaviour.
Last month, Westpac (ASX:WBC) and the Melbourne Institute revealed the Consumer Sentiment Index declined in May to the lowest point in two years. This followed an already low score in April and a long preceding period of weakness.