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Rate cuts fail to spark retail spending

AAP logoAAP 7/10/2016

Two interest rate cuts are yet to trigger a boom in retail spending, MasterCard says.

The MasterCard Spending Pulse Report shows retail sales rose 3.2 per cent in the year to August, compared to growth of 3.6 per cent in the year to July.

Senior vice president of market insights Sarah Quinlan said not all retail subsectors have benefited and there's still scant evidence the Reserve Bank's two rate cuts in 2016 have influenced consumers.

"The rate cuts have not had a tremendous impact in retail sales given that home lending has continued to be readily available and the higher home prices have taken away more of the consumers' discretionary income, leaving less available for traditional retail spending," she told AAP.

Ms Quinlan said a rise in sales in August was primarily due to new store openings and more spending on specialty apparel, while department stores continued experience subdued growth.

"While department stores have slightly rebounded I would attribute that to both increased tourism spending as well as the re-styling of some of their formats which combine experiences and services as well as the typical selling of goods, which is more in line with the consumers' natural spending pattern," she said.

International visitors were taking advantage of the weaker Australian dollar, but the currency's recent rebound had moderated that impact, Ms Quinlan said.

Attracting US visitors in greater numbers would be very critical to increasing tourism spend, as they typically spend more than visitors from other countries, she added.

There was also a slight rebound in household goods sales in August, from a flat result in July.

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