(Image: Getty)

Remember when the government's tax refunds were all that were needed to fix Australia's economic malaise? How it was going to be 2008 all over again, as grateful taxpayers celebrated a Coalition election win by spending their refund cheques? As last week's August retail sales figures show, that isn't the case at all -- not nationally, and particularly not in NSW.

In fact, consumers in Scott Morrison's home state have been refusing to open their wallets for some time, particularly since the February-March period of this year. As Crikey has pointed out a couple of times this year, retail sales have been flat or declining in the premier state since August 2018 (when Morrison knifed Malcolm Turnbull), despite a brief pick-up in February and March. Last week's figures showed NSW sales rising 0.3% in August in seasonally adjusted terms and flat in trend terms. Over the year to August they rose just 0.3% in NSW in trend terms compared to a 2.3% rise in sales nationally.