A theory about Australia
It is fairly obvious that the early and significant fiscal intervention by the Australian government has prevented retal sales from collapsing as they did in the 1991 recession. So it is worth analysing which sub-sectors have shown positive growth and vice-versa.
The following table shows the retail growth performance for Australia by sub-sector. I computed the percentage growth since January 2009 (basically the first month after the first stimulus payments started flowing into the data) and also the monthly percentage change since June 2009.
If you examine this breakdown you might come up with the following hypotheses:
H1: Australian are drinking less alcohol and sobering up after decades of alcohol abuse.
H2: Australians have decided that they are obese and have decided to eat less.
H3: Australians have given up on their Bunning’s binge realising that the stuff there is mostly junk.
H4: Australians have stopped buying shoes because they have have too many anyway. I have witnessed this personally!
H5: Australians have given up reading News Limited newspapers because they got sick of the economic commentary! (no link required).
Further we can conjecture the alternatives:
AH1: Australians are going to specialised food outlets to get organic vegetarian-based food as part of a lifestyle change.
AH2: Australians are buying more vitamins and deodorants because they are exercising more (alternative to H1 and H2 and H3).
AH3: Australians are buying more recreational goods beause they are exercising more (alternative to H1 and H2 and H3).
Conclusion: fiscal policy is good!
Here's Bill's table: