© Reuters.

Investing.com– Australian retail sales unexpectedly fell in June, data showed on Friday, as consumer spending ran out of steam amid persistent pressure from sticky inflation and high interest rates.

fell 0.8% in June from the prior month, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The reading was weaker than expectations that sales would remain flat, and also fell behind a 0.7% gain in the prior month.

But retail spending still remained close to six-month highs hit in May, although the ABS said that this was largely due to increased discounting and promotional activity in May, and that it had only provided a temporary boost to spending.

Friday’s reading showed that relatively high and interest rates were eating into savings, which in turn saw spending decline across most sectors outside of food. Department stores and apparel retailers saw the biggest drop in sales.

“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,” Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, said in a statement.

While inflation has fallen substantially from 30-year peaks hit earlier this year, it still remains relatively high, and well above the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) target range.

This had also spurred interest rate hikes by the RBA in April and May, adding to the pressure on consumer spending as mortgage and housing costs rose.

But easing retail spending points to further declines in inflation, which could in turn see the RBA hold off on raising interest rates further. 

A majority of analysts expect the central bank to next week, although some analysts are still holding out for one more hike by the RBA this year.

The fell 0.1% after Friday’s reading.

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