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Like the abnormally large tidal move that precedes a tsunami, the surprisingly strong March retail results should be viewed with great trepidation about what’s to come, according to economists at Westpac.

 Key quotes

“The report confirmed preliminary estimates that showed an exceptionally strong March month, nominal sales jumping 8.5% to be up 10.1%yr.” 

“For the March quarter as a whole, nominal sales rose 2.7%qtr. However, most of this was due to prices – the retail deflator up 1.9%qtr, the strongest quarterly rise since the GST introduction in 2000.” 

“While the retail figures highlight the complexity of the coronavirus impact in its early stages, there is little doubt that retail sales and wider measures of consumer spending will show a material weakening as the full effects show through in Q2.”