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Retail spending down in December

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AAP

February 06 2013, 12:15AM

Westpac senior economist Matthew Hassan said the figures show a shift in consumer demand.

"Basically they show that (sales) volumes were tracking lower for the whole of the second half of last year," he said.

"I think more generally we had a fragile consumer picture through the second half of last year, particularly around mid year with a very significant rise in fears around job losses and that may have come through to spending."

Mr Hassan said he doesn't think a shift to online spending was a major factor in the pre-Christmas retail spending slump.

"Some of this is caused by industry specific issues with online sales from offshore providers but even allowing for that it does point to a much softer consumer demand picture from late last year than originally indicated," he said.

Mr Hassan said he expects the central bank will cut the cash rate at its March board meeting after deciding not to cut at on Tuesday.