Christmas failed to spur a pick-up in retail trade in shopping centres and retail strips with sales falling 0.2% in December on a seasonally-adjusted basis despite, following a fall of 0.2% in November and a drop of 0.1% in October.
Expectations were for a 0.3% rise over December.
The figures will be noted by the RBA, which is expecting a recovery in non-mining sectors of the economy such as retailing and manufacturing to take up the slack from a fast-approaching mining investment peak.
The largest contributor to the fall was other retailing (-2.8%) followed by cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-1.1%) and food retailing (-0.1%).
These falls were partially offset by rises in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (2.1%), household goods retailing (0.8%), and department stores (0.8%).
Over the longer term, the weakest performing industries were household goods retailing (down 0.4% in trend terms) and other retailing (down 0.5%).
The largest contributor to the fall was New South Wales (-0.7 per cent), followed by Victoria (-0.2 per cent), Western Australia (-0.3 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.8%). These falls were partially offset by rises in Tasmania (2.0 per cent), the Northern Territory (0.7 per cent) and South Australia (0.1 per cent). Queensland (0.0 per cent) was relatively unchanged. Over the longer term, South Australia was the weakest performing state (down 0.4 per cent in trend terms) whilst Tasmania has fallen in trend terms for 14 consecutive months.
The trend estimate for Australian retail turnover fell 0.1% in December 2012. This follows a relatively unchanged November 2012 (0.0%) and a relatively unchanged October 2012 (0.0%).
In volume terms, turnover rose 0.1 per cent in the December quarter 2012, seasonally adjusted, following a fall of 0.3 per cent in the September quarter 2012.