iPhone Frenzy Helps Australia Retail Sales Jump Most Since 2013

Australian retail sales jumped the most in almost five years in November, driven by a binge on IPhone purchases and Black Friday sales.

Sales climbed by 1.2 percent from the previous month, triple the estimate of economists and the biggest leap since February 2013, data showed Thursday. The spike included a 9.3 percent surge in electronic goods sales spurred by the iPhone X release, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The Australian dollar climbed to 78.76 U.S. cents at 12:22 p.m. in Sydney from 78.42 cents before the release.

The result is a turnaround on a weak third quarter and suggests a record-run of full-time hiring and low interest rates may be encouraging consumers. The sustainability of the recovery is clouded by record-high debt carried by Australian households, at200 percent of income, and anemic wage growth.

“Many households are continuing to struggle against weak income growth, both wages and non-wage income, such as interest earnings and property rental yields, rising debt levels and price increases for essentials such as power,” said Sarah Hunter at BIS Oxford Economics. “With these drags on spending set to continue, 2018 is likely to be another relatively subdued year for growth in household expenditure.”

— With assistance by Matthew Burgess

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