Updated: Oct 7, 2020
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 -
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
“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
“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
“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
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
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) email@example.com 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.