Retail spending sees an upswing as the sector experiences a boost from the influence of Taylor Swift.

Retail trade received a significant boost through February fueled by Taylor Swift’s widespread popularity following her seven sold-out arena concerts in Melbourne and Sydney. This surge in consumer spending encompassed dining out, apparel purchases, and merchandise, leading to a 0.3 percent increase in retail spending, as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday, slightly below the anticipated 0.4 percent rise.

However, when the impact of the Eras Tour was excluded, underlying retail spending showed signs of weakness, with only a 0.1 percent increase in trend terms, according to Ben Dorber, the ABS head of retail statistics. He noted a period of stagnation in underlying spending, following higher volatility from November to January.

In terms of the annualized figures, retail spending for the year through February reached 1.6 percent. Notably, the surge in Swift-themed purchases, including clothing, footwear, and personal accessories, led to a significant 4.2 percent jump in this sector. Department store spending also experienced a notable increase of 2.3 percent, while growth in cafes, restaurants, and takeaway outlets remained modest at 0.5 per cent.

However, household goods spending decreased by 0.8 percent, and food retailing saw a slight decline of 0.1 percent. NSW and Victoria reported stronger retail spending increases compared to the national average, while Queensland, excluded from Swift’s tour, experienced a 0.5 percent decrease in retail spending.

Looking beyond the immediate impact of Swift’s tour, economists from the Commonwealth Bank highlighted concerns regarding real per capita spending, which remained in negative territory despite population growth and inflation. According to CBA economist Belinda Allen, the volume of spending per person remained “deeply negative.”

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