Retail Sales for April Up 9.6 Percent YoY

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By Published On: May 31, 20220 Comments

Retail sales have increased by 0.9 percent in April; a sign of continued recovery with three consecutive increases over the year. This is up 9.6 percent compared to the same period in 2021 and is breaking the previous record set a month earlier. 

Retail sales increased 1.6 percent, 1.8 percent, and 1.6 percent in January, February and March, respectively. These increases are a strong sign of the ongoing retail recovery, with the added increase in household spending.

“The strength in retail turnover is being driven by spending across the food industries. High food prices have combined with increased household spending over the April holiday period as more people are travelling, dining out and holding family gatherings,” said Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics.

“There were strong rises in both food retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services. This is a contrast to the consumer behaviour previously seen during the pandemic, where these two industries would consistently move in opposite directions as outbreaks and restrictions either tightened or eased.”

While there were increases across the board for retail categories, including clothing, footwear and personal retailing (3.1 percent), and other retailing (0.5 percent), household goods retailing dropped 2.7 percent, and department stores also dropped by 2.5 percent.

“April was another phenomenal result for retailers overall, with trade boosted by the Easter long weekend when many people got away for holidays – the first real break people had since the beginning of the pandemic, which coincided with a relaxing of domestic border controls and Covid restrictions on businesses,” shared Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association.

However, the increase in prices may also play a role in the increased sales turnover, Zahra warned.

“However, we know that the record retail sales result can also be attributed to the higher prices we’re seeing across the economy – particularly in the food industries. While sales are increasing, so too are business costs, while staff shortages remain an ongoing concern,” he continued.

In a similar vein, Dominique Lamb, the CEO of the National Retail Association, shared that she suggests that the Reserve Bank await the May and June figure before moving again on interest rates. “This is certainly welcome news, although it’s no great surprise as we knew there were inflationary pressures in the economy, which is what prompted this month’s rate increase,” she said.

“The danger for retailers will be if we see further increases before there has been time to properly assess the impact of the first-rate rise. So we caution against using these figures as a reason to try to curb spending, when we don’t yet know the impact of the May increase.”

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