Australian retail turnover fell almost 20 per cent off the back of COVID-19, according to new figures from the ABS.
Australian retail turnover fell 17.7 per cent in April, seasonally adjusted, following strict lockdowns and social distancing measures. The fall follows a rise of 8.5 per cent in March.
“COVID-19 continued to affect retail trade in April with many retail businesses closing their physical stores during April due to restrictions relating to social distancing,” said Ben James, director of quarterly economy wide surveys. “There were record falls in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-35.4 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-53.6 per cent), as well as a large fall in department stores (-14.9 per cent).”
Food retailing was down 17.4 per cent, leading falls in dollar terms following “unprecedented” demand in March. Spending in food retailing remains 5.1 per cent above the level of April 2019, reflecting additional meals being consumed at home.
Other retailing fell 14.4 per cent after a large rise in March, while household goods retailing recorded the smallest fall of 0.1 per cent, with physical store closures offset by a rise in hardware, building, and garden supply retailing.
Predictably, online retailing benefited from mass lockdowns.
“The closure of physical stores in some industries led to a rise in online retail turnover, which contributed 11.1 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms in April 2020, up from 7.1 per cent in March 2020,” the ABS said. “In April 2019, online retail turnover contributed 5.7 per cent to total retail.
“Additional analysis noted that online sales made up over 20.5 per cent of sales across household goods retailing, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, department stores, and other retailing.”