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Australian IT imports plunge

Second-lowest spend since 2005

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That grumbling you hear in channel-land and retail-land about no-one buying IT right now?

New data shows it is justified, as Australia imported just $569m of what the Australian Bureau of Statistics calls “Office machines and automatic data processing machines” in February 2012.

That’s a big fall compared to January, when imports reached $678m. December 2011 clocked up $750m and November 2011 saw $872m of goods in that category cross our borders.

February is seldom a good month for imports in the International Merchandise Imports series, which goes back to January 1988. But to get an idea of how sharp February’s fall was, the last month with a five in front of its import numbers was February 2011’s $564m. But before that you need to go back to February 2009 to find another $500m month ($581m to be precise) and before that to February 2005 when the ABS counted $572m of goods in this category.

The January-to-February fall for 2012 is also far larger – at $109m – than the fall between the two months going back to January 1988.

It's hard to account for the fall. Numerous surveys point to slowly growing business confidence and greater profit expectations, fuelled in part by a colossal investment pipeline in the resources sector. Others suggest consumers are keeping their wallets and purses shut, preferring to save rather than shop. We'll keep an eye on next month's release of this data to offer more longitudinal reporting. ®

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