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Consumer electronic retailers are smiling all the way to the bank after consumers poured into their stores in record numbers in March. According to several retailers that ChannelNews has spoken to today, it was revealed that Australians spent a record $19.3 billion in March, as the Federal Government started rolling out billions of dollars in cash handouts.

Retail trade at current prices rose by 2.2 per cent in March to a seasonally adjusted $19.3 billion, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) said.

That was well above market expectations of an 0.5 per cent increase. Department stores and mass retailers selling consumer electronics did especially well, with retail sales up 13.2 per cent in March after two months of declines in a row.  Sales of clothing and soft goods climbed 6.4 per cent.

The better-than-expected retail spending data feeds into the national accounts figures due on June 3, which will show if Australia’s economy is growing or is in recession.

According to AAP reports UBS economist Scott Haslem said the data “continues the theme of ‘resilience’ for Australia”.

Mr Haslem said it was possible national accounts figures showing growth for the first quarter of the year was “not out of the question.”

Retail spending makes up 60 per cent of domestic demand in the gross domestic product equation.

Although “surprised” by the March result, CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian said the start of cash payments from the federal government’s second stimulus package was behind the jump in retail sales.

“The anecdotal evidence here at CBA suggests that we’ve started to see the second stimulus package start to hit clients’ accounts,” Mr Sebastian said.

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