Retail sales are up 0.4 percent in May, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is up from the preliminary results of 0.1 percent earlier in the month.
The steady rise in retail sales is 7.7. percent above the same period in 2020, indicating strong retail growth YoY. “The May results are very good for retail, with a strong increase on the April results which is also promising when you consider the month is generally a quiet one for the sector,” said Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association.
“It shows that when the economy is relatively open that business is going well, but as the recent spate of state lockdowns has shown there remains uncertainty. Retailers understand the need to keep the public safe but even short lockdowns can have a massive effect on the economy. While the May ABS figures are very good, we’re likely to see less promising results in June and July.”
The biggest industry falls recorded included household good retailing, which fell by -1.1 percent and department stores, which fell by 0.7 percent.
“The main themes from the Retail Trade Preliminary release remain relevant for the Final release. Retail turnover in May was impacted by the Victorian lockdown from May 28 onwards, as well as those states recovering from restrictions in April,” explained Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys.
More than $31 billion was spent in-stores and online in May. Online sales now represent 9.1 percent of total retail sales.
“It’s pleasing to see retail sales tracking well overall, however we’re yet to see the full impact of the state-imposed lockdowns we’ve seen recently across multiple jurisdictions,” said Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association. “The ABS figures released today show retail spending in Victoria fell 0.9 percent in May as the state entered its fourth lockdown. Queensland and Tasmania led the monthly increases – up 1.6 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. The next two months of data is set to be a mixed bag across the states with businesses across NSW, Queensland, Western Australia and the NT impacted by lockdowns and restrictions as new Covid cases emerged in the community.
“When comparing May 2021 to May 2020, spending on food retailing (which includes supermarkets, grocery stores, and liquor retailing) was down 1.2 percent, household goods was down 5.5 percent, clothing, footwear and personal accessories was up 46.3 perecent, department stores were down 4.7 percent, while cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services were up 62.6 percent,” he said.
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