Australians have turned off the tap on spending despite lowering inflation, with even mid-year sales not enough to boost retail turnover.

Retail turnover fell 0.8 per cent in June 2023, according to figures released on Friday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The recent figures reversed a 0.8 per cent rise in turnover in May and added to a 0.1 per cent fall in April.

“Retail turnover fell sharply in June due to weaker than usual spending on end of financial year sales. This comes as cost-of-living pressures continued to weigh on consumer spending,” ABS head of retail statistics Ben Dorber said.

“There was extra discounting and promotional activity in May, leading up to mid-year sales events. This delivered a boost in turnover for retailers, but that proved to be temporary as consumers pulled back on spending in June.”

The grim figures come as inflation continues to lose steam, with the consumer price index rising 6.0 per cent in the 12 months to the June quarter, down from its peak of 7.8 per cent in December.

Most industry figures fell, with department stores down 5.0 per cent followed by other retailing as well as clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, which both fell by 2.2 per cent.

Household goods fell for the eighth month in the past year, declining by 0.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, Aussies seem to be turning away from eating out, with spending in cafes, restaurants and on takeaway food services down 0.3 per cent, while food retailing grew by 0.1 per cent.

“Over the last 12 months, growth in food-related spending has mostly been driven by rising food prices, Mr Dorber said.

“We saw in Wednesday’s release of the consumer price index (CPI) that food prices rose again in the June quarter. Consumers are responding to these price rises by changing to cheaper brands or by simply buying less.”

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