Asia markets traded mixed on Thursday, with some Australian retailers faltering after lower-than-expected sales data showed consumers Down Under were cutting back.
The country's retail turnover fell 0.6 percent in August, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed, coming in short of a Reuters poll forecasting a rise of 0.3 percent. That was the worst decline in sales since early 2013, Reuters said.
There were declines in food retailing, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, household goods and clothing, footwear and personal accessories. Sectors that saw an increase included department stores.
July's retail sales figure was also revised down to 0.2 percent fall.
"The big question for the outlook is why retail sales as a whole fell in August," Tapas Strickland, an economist at the National Australia Bank (NAB), wrote in a note. "NAB's transaction data suggested this, however there was no obvious macro events to explain such weakness."
Strickland added it was possible that higher energy prices and "warnings that the next move in interest rates is likely to be up" could have played a role in decline.
"Overall, the trend in retail is likely to remain subdued until wages begin to strengthen given debt levels and a hesitant consumer, while online retail will continue to challenge bricks and mortar retailers," Strickland said.
Australian retail stocks were mixed following the data, with Myer shares closing down 1.3 percent, Harvey Norman off 0.52 percent and JB Hi-Fi down 0.74 percent. Shares of of Metcash rose 1.63 percent, Wesfarmers added 0.32 percent and Woolworths gained 0.53 percent.