Australian retail sales have recorded their sixth straight month of positive year-on-year growth, with total retail sales up 6.9% in March compared to the same time last year, according to Mastercard Spending Pulse which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

With a marginal 0.6% fall in sales compared to February, sales remain robust on the year-on-year comparison and was the second-strongest sales growth rate for March in Australia in SpendingPulse history.

Household goods were the strongest performer out of the retail categories, with sales up 17.2% in March compared to the same month last year, followed by food (up 5.2%) and clothing (up 4.5%). However, department store sales were down 6% in March compared to a year ago.

All states and territories recorded positive year-on-year sales growth, with Queensland leading the way (up 9.2%) followed by Victoria (up 8.7%) and NSW (up 7.1%).

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said while business conditions continue to be challenged by inflationary pressures, consumer spending levels remain healthy overall.

“Despite the challenging economic environment, consumer spending remains upbeat, and pleasingly, we’ve now recorded six consecutive months of positive year-on-year sales growth,” Zahra said.

“However, not all sectors of retail are thriving, and we continue to be concerned for travel retailers and CBD retailers, in particular small businesses, with our capital cities still a far cry of their former selves. We’ve seen people start to return to city offices but there’s still a long way to go to get our CBDs back to the buzzing commercial precincts they once were.”