Retail sales strengthen in February despite ongoing disruption

Australian retail sales continued to strengthen in February despite the global economic uncertainty and cost pressures on business, with sales increasing 8.1% compared to the same time last year according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

Sales in February also increased 3% compared to the previous month and are up 14% on pre-pandemic conditions in 2020.

 

Household goods remains the top performing retail category, recording the seventh straight month of positive year on year growth, with sales up 18.1% followed by Clothing (up 12.2% YOY) and Food retailing (up 5.4% YOY). Department stores recorded its ninth straight month of negative year on year growth, with sales down 3.7% in February compared to a year earlier (though +3.9% since February 2020).

All the states and territories experienced positive sales growth in February with Victoria recording the biggest increase, up 11.8% compared to the same month last year, followed by Western Australia (up 10% YOY) and Tasmania (up 9.3% YOY)

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said consumer spending in Australia continues to be upbeat despite the challenging business conditions.

“Retailers have navigated the worst of the pandemic however, we’ve now entered a period of global economic uncertainty, which has strained global energy supplies and is impacting cost of living pressures with rising inflation also a significant concern,” Mr Zahra said.

“There are other local issues at play with Covid-related supply chain issues and the devastating floods in NSW and Queensland also impacting business costs and the movement of goods, coupled with ongoing staff shortages. Despite the challenging business conditions, consumer spending continued to be upbeat during February and most categories of retail recorded positive year on year growth.

“Our CBDs are on the slow road to recovery with an encouraging lift in the office occupancy rate in our capital cities in February, which is providing a much-needed boost to CBD retailers through increased foot traffic.

“Whilst minimal Covid restrictions are currently in place in most parts of the country, the close contact isolation requirements are continuing to put staff out of action and crippling small businesses in particular. We continue to call for national alignment where close contacts don’t have to isolate, provided they’re showing no symptoms and testing negative. This is an important step in our journey to living with Covid and treating it as any other virus – especially as our vaccination rates continue to be world-leading.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.

Mastercard SpendingPulse February 2021

SECTORS (TOTAL SALES) SEASONALLY ADJUSTED GROWTH NOMINAL SALES GROWTH
  Feb-21 vs Jan-21 Feb-21 vs Feb-20 Feb-21 vs Feb-19
TOTAL AUSTRALIA RETAIL SALES +3.0% +8.1% +14.0%
Clothing +12.3% +12.2% +25,4%
Department stores +4.1% -3.7% +3.9%
Household goods +5.5% +18.1% +30.2%
Food retailing +0.9% +5.4% +9.9%
STATE/TERRITORY % CHANGES FOR TOTAL RETAIL SALES NOMINAL SALES GROWTH
  Feb-21 vs Feb-20 Feb-21 vs Feb-19
New South Wales +6.5% +14.5%
Victoria +11.8% +12.7%
Queensland +7.0% +15.6%
Western Australia +10.0% +17.7%
South Australia +4.4% +9.4%
Australian Capital Territory +1.8% +8.2%
Northern Territory +3.3% +11.9%
Tasmania +9.3% +10.6%
Australia +8.1% +14.0%

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data. 

 

 

ENDS…

 
 
 

Media Enquiries: 

ARA Media Team 

T 0419 270 863 

E media@retail.org.au

 

About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $360bn sector which employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 100,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit retail.org.au 

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