ABS August Fall in Retail Sales Data Confirms Full Impact of Victorian Lockdowns

Updated: Oct 7

ABS Retail Trade Figures for August confirm the full impact of stage-four restrictions in Victoria, with national

retail sales figures hampered by the state’s performance, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said today.

Today's full ABS figures reveal a 4.0% fall in retail turnover from July to August 2020, while recording year-onyear growth of 7.1% compared to August 2019, with Victoria recording the most severe monthly downturn of -

12.6%.


ARA CEO Paul Zahra said that today’s figures emphasised the urgent need to ease restrictions in Victoria, which

have slowed the nation-wide uplift that began to materialise around the country.


“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,” Mr

Zahra said.


“We’ve certainly seen an uneven share of the gains across the country – the prospects of many retailers are

dependent on where they operate or the type of goods they sell. Sales of household products and essential

goods like food and beverages, underpins the strong overall sales while prolonged weak trading conditions

continue to afflict discretionary retailers.


“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% month on month.”


Mr Zahra urged the Victorian Government to reconsider its reopening plan, pointing to the example of NSW

which remained fully open in August while recording a similar COVID-19 case load to the current Victorian

figures.


“Retailers are clearly committed to the safety of all Victorian shoppers and have pulled out all the stops to ensure

they can operate safely, only to endure some of the most severe lockdowns we have seen anywhere in the

world.”


“We know that we can still have a robust, yet COVID-safe shopping season in Melbourne, and have been

advocating for an earlier end to the retail restrictions, to allow for a more progressive, smoother, and safer reopening. We believe an approach similar to the successful NSW example is a much more reasonable alternative,

as current lockdowns are globally unprecedented and untenable,” he said.


“We are also concerned about further supply chain disruptions due to the potential Maritime Union action against

Patrick Terminals. Now that the Victorian distribution centres are fully open for business, we need this port

dispute fully resolved as soon as possible for Christmas inventory to make it to the stores on time.”


“Online retail continues to remain robust with total turnover rising 7.0% in seasonally adjusted month-on-month

terms in August 2020, following a rise of 6.3% in July. And compared to August of 2019, Online sales were up

more than 81 per cent. Online now accounts for 11% 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.”


Monthly Retail Growth (July 2020 – August 2020, seasonally adjusted)

Food retailing (-0.2%), Other retailing (-5.2%), Household goods retailing (-6.0%), Cafés, restaurants and

takeaway food services (-6.6%), Department stores (-8.9%), and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory

retailing (-10.5%).

Northern Territory (2.0%), Australian Capital Territory (0.7%), Tasmania (-0.2%), Western Australia (-0.4%), South Australia (-0.9%), Queensland (-1.1%), New South Wales (-2.0%), and Victoria (-12.6%).


Overall month-on-month sales growth: -4.4%.


Year-on-Year Retail Growth (August 2019 – August 2020, seasonally adjusted)


Household goods retailing (21.0%), Food retailing (14.3%), Other retailing (8.4%), Department stores (-6.2%),

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-9.2%), and Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services

(-17.5%).

Western Australia (17.9%), Tasmania (17.8%), Australian Capital Territory (15.1%), Queensland (14.7%), South

Australia (12.1%), Northern Territory (11.1%), New South Wales (10.7%), and Victoria (-10.3%).


Overall year-on-year sales growth: 7.1%


ENDS…for more details: ARA Media Team (m) 0431 045 373 (e) media@retail.org.au About us: founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association is Australia’s largest retail association, representing a $340bn sector employing more than 1.2m people. As Australia’s premier retail body, the ARA works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,500 independent and national retail members. To learn more, visit www.retail.org.au or call 1300 368 041.


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