Australian consumers embarked on a post-Christmas shopping spree in January that defied expectations of a slowdown after three rises in official interest rates, data released on Thursday showed.
Retail sales leapt 2.8 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis in January, after falling in November and December by 1.3 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.January's gain was the largest monthly rise since May 1994 and dwarfed even the highest forecasts by local economists. Nearly every category of sales jumped in January, led by clothing and hospitality.
The data reinforced speculation that Australia's economy continued to expand at a brisk pace in early 1995, despite rises in interest rates. Sales of new cars have been strong and employment has continued growing.
"People who thought the economy was going to fall over in a hurry are going to have to make a reassessment," said Macquarie Bank economist John Kyriakopoulas.
The economists said a further rate rise by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), most likely in April, was back on the agenda to slow the growth and prevent inflation from breaking far above its annual rate of 2.5 percent.