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Despite Ongoing Lockdowns, Retail Figures Up 7.4 Percent from 2020

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By Published On: June 22, 20210 Comments

Retail sales from ABS have increased slightly in May, with mixed results across each state and territory due to pandemic lockdowns.

The results for this month, seasonally adjusted, have impacted the country in varying ways but has still managed to increase by 0.1 percent over the month.

“The preliminary figures released today show differing results across the states as Covid continues to impact business performance depending on where they’re located,” said Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association.

Figures are currently 7.4 percent above the same month last year, signalling ongoing strength in retail sales, even with further lockdown measure across the country.

Victoria had the biggest dip in retail sales, dropping by 1.5 percent due to its fourth lockdown measures, which began in late May. The state saw falls across all industries, but shopping saw an increase in the final week of May due to the oncoming lockdown measures. Despite the dip in Victoria, the figures were offset by Queensland and Western Australia, which both recorded increases of 1.5 percent.

“There were mixed results across the industries and states and territories, with COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria impacting the May result,” said Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys. “Victoria fell 1.5 percent as the state entered its fourth lockdown on May 28 with trade restricted for physical stores.”

While the results remain positive for the country, the COVID-19 restrictions have continued to make an indent in real sales as a whole, as Zahra said. “It’s pleasing to see retail sales overall on a positive trajectory, albeit at a slower pace. However, what the figures don’t show us is the uneven recovery for many small businesses, including those within CBDs and travel retail.”

“Every lockdown comes at a significant cost, and there is now no safety net for retailers. As we’ve seen over the past month in Victoria, and now in Sydney – the COVID threat is far from over, and new cases can quickly emerge despite our best efforts to contain the virus,” he said.

Consumer confidence has also taken a tumble due to the ongoing restrictions facing the country, Zahra explained. Victorian businesses still face restrictions in a certain capacity, impacting the overall confidence of businesses and consumers alike.

“Sydney businesses are also on edge given the new cases that have emerged over the past week,” he said. “We know that whenever new COVID cases pop up in the community, foot traffic through retail stores tumble as people limit their movements and work from home if they can. The ongoing COVID impacts highlight just how critical the vaccine rollout is to [ensure] businesses can trade with confidence.”

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