For first time in close to 12 months, the retail sector has expanded, according to the latest Australian Industry Group – Commonwealth Bank Australian Performance of Services Index (PSI).

The Australian PSI rose 4.3 points in November to 47.1 and while this represents an overall contraction, the retail sector expanded by 13.6 points to 55.2, which is encouraging though tentative sign ahead of retailers’ peak Christmas trading period.

In comparison, activity in the accommodation, cafes & restaurants and personal & recreational services sub- sectors declined, after tracking more strongly in early 2012.

According to the Index, low levels of consumer confidence, economic uncertainty, weak activity in manufacturing and construction, and the high dollar were again noted as factors contributing to soft business conditions.