Victoria Drives Down Retail Turnover in August

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By Published On: October 5, 20200 Comments

Australian retail turnover has dropped four percent in August, with the main driver stemming from Victoria's Stage Four restrictions. In contrast, online retail continues to skyrocket, almost doubling from 2019 results.

Retail turnover has dropped four percent in August, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This comes after the preliminary drop of 4.2 in mid-September.

In July 2020, retail turnover increased by 3.2 percent. While the coronavirus remains one of the leading reasons for the drop in turnover, Victoria’s strict Stage 4 restrictions remain the driver for the fall.

“Victoria, which faced Stage 3 and 4 restrictions in August, fell 12.6 percent in seasonally adjusted terms,” explained Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys.

Across the country, individual states experienced slight dips in turnover, such as NSW, which decreased two percent. Queensland saw figures drop by 1.1 percent, with South Australia dipping by 0.9 percent and Western Australia dropping by 0.2 percent.

In contrast, the Northern Territory saw an increase in turnover by two percent, and the ACT saw a slight rise by 0.7 percent.

“All industries fell in August, as trading restrictions in Victoria drove falls at a national level. Household goods retailing (-6.0 percent), other retailing (-5.1 percent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-10.5 percent), cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-6.6 percent), and department stores (-8.9 percent) saw large falls. Food retailing (-0.2 percent) saw a minor fall,” explained Ben James.

Retail has risen 7.1 percent compared to August 2019, with food retailing, household goods and other retailing ‘particularly strong’ in through-the-year terms.

“The slowdown in the national picture reflects the spill-over effect that Victoria has had on the rest of the country, and we are also mindful that the effect of government stimulus on consumer spending is beginning to wane,” explained Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association.

“Despite the return to a close to normal life across much of the country, the continued strength of household goods sales indicates Australians are still staying, playing and working at home- albeit sales in this category are beginning to level out

“Whilst we are seeing promising performance for some retail categories, there are still many retailers fighting for survival – those in CBD locations and discretionary retailers – the clothing, footwear, and personal accessories category recorded a continued sales fall of 10.5 percent month on month,” he said.

Online sales made up 11 percent of total retail turnover for August 2020, signalling the continued increase of the platform. In July 2020, e-commerce sales made up 9.8 percent of all retail turnover. In August 2019, online sales made up 6.4 percent of total retail.

“Online retail continues to remain robust with total turnover rising 7.0 percent in seasonally adjusted month-on-month terms in August 2020, following a rise of 6.3 percent in July,” Zahra explained.

“And compared to August of 2019, Online sales were up more than 81 percent. Online now accounts for 11 percent of all retail sales. This is a clear example of the shift in consumer behaviour, and we expect online growth to become part of the post-COVID retail recovery.”

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