Australian retail sales totaled A$21.4bn ($22.2bn) for the month of December 2012, registering a 0.2% decline in seasonally adjusted terms, when compared to the earlier month of November.

The decline in December is the third consecutive fall in monthly sales, with sales having declined an identical 0.2% in the earlier month.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that sales of cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services as well as food retailing contributed primarily to the decline.

The ‘other retailing’ category, however, registered the sharpest decline at 2.8% for the month.

Overall retail revenues were partially boosted by a 2.1% increase in sales of clothing, footwear and personal accessories.

Sales in the Australian Capital Territory fell 0.8% for the month followed by a 0.7% fall in New South Wales.

Tasmania and Northern Territory however returned positive sales figures of 2% and 0.7% respectively.

Monthly estimates for larger retailers rose 26.3% while smaller businesses traded flat at 14.3%.

The seasonally adjusted revenue for the December quarter grew by a modest 0.1%, as against a 0.3% fall registered in previous quarter.

The quarterly sales were fueled by 1.7% increase in sales from department stores besides 1.5% growth in food retailing.

Clothing, footwear and accessory sector has fell by 1.5%, followed closely by 1.2% dip in sales from cafes and restaurants.

Western Australia, Queensland and Northern Territory reported positive sales figures for the quarter with figures of 1.8%, 0.8% and 0.5% respectively.

Tasmania registered the highest fall in the quarter with a 1.3% decline following by South Australia at 1.4% decline.