Australian retail turnover has lifted 0.6 percent in January, according to the preliminary figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The report has found that compared to January 2020, retail turnover has risen by 10.7 percent.
“There continues to be variations in retail sales between states and territories, as COVID-19 restrictions are tightened or eased in different parts of the country,” explained Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys.
There were falls in the clothing and personal accessory retailing categories, as well as household goods and department stores – all of which saw impacts from interrupted trade throughout Queensland.
“All states and territories rose in January, except Queensland (-1.5 percent), where a three-day lockdown impacted trade. NSW (1.0 percent) led the rises, as restrictions that began in December were eased during January,” said James.
Supermarkets saw an increase in sales throughout Januar, following a fall the month before.
“Retailers had a really strong finish to the year and that’s now continued through to January, however it doesn’t paint a complete picture of what the sector is going through,” said Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association.
“While the unemployment rate is trending down and house prices are strong – our economic recovery is uneven, and there are still pockets of retail across the country that will suffer when the JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes wind up.”
Zahra highlighted the falls in travel retailing, as well as the dips in sales across CBDs and tourist shopping strips.
“Travel retailers, in particular, are at breaking point and are preparing to shed thousands of jobs. These are businesses operating within airports and CBD tourist shopping strips which remain largely deserted,” Zahra said.
“International borders are not going to reopen any time soon, and these businesses will have no option but to close unless there’s additional Federal Government support. They are in crisis through no fault of their own.”
Zahra also indicated that the five-day circuit breaker lockdown that Victorians faced through mid-February could happen to other states at any time.
“As we’ve seen in Victoria in the past week, new cases can emerge at any time and retailers are operating at the whim of the different Premiers in terms of how they might respond with lockdowns and restrictions,” he said.
“Even with the imminent rollout of the vaccines, this uncertainty will continue for some time and we repeat our calls for a nationally consistent approach around COVID restrictions, with clear criteria, so businesses can at least operate with some sort of confidence.”
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