Consumers on buying and borrowing spree in June

Retail sales leapt 0.9 per cent in June to a record $14.6 billion, bringing the June quarter total retail turnover volume to $42 billion, a rise of 2.5 per cent. This was the 13th consecutive month that retail sales have increased. Department stores led the June retail figures, with sales up 6.4 per cent. Sales of household goods rose 3.3 per cent, while clothing and hospitality and services sales were also stronger.

Household debt also rose in June to a new record high. Private debt grew 1.4 per cent during the month and total credit for the year to June 30th increased 9.8 per cent. The June month rise was supported by a lift in home borrowing, up 1.9 per cent, bringing the total annual growth in borrowing for housing to almost 20 per cent. This is the fastest growth rate since May 2001. Housing debt increased to $339 billion, almost double the figure of June 1996.

Credit card and personal loan borrowings grew 0.3 per cent in June and 10 per cent for the full year, with credit card debt at a record high of $20.86 billion in June. Business investment also rose in June, by 1.2 per cent.