retail-sales-down
Lockdown measures drive sales down. Image – Canva
  • Ongoing lockdown measures are at the root of continued retail sales decline
  • The most significant impact was felt in the ACT with a 19.9% retail sales fall
  • ABS released retail turnover data for August this week

In the third consecutive decline in monthly retail turnover, Australian retail sales declined 1.7% in August according to data released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys at the ABS attributes the retail sales fall to ongoing lockdowns.

“Retail turnover continues to be negatively impacted by lockdown restrictions, with each of the eastern mainland states experiencing falls in line with their respective level of restrictions,” Mr James said.

Monthly retail turnover nationally
ABS-retail-sales
Source – ABS

New South Wales has been hit hard with a 3.5% retail sales drop during what was another full month in lockdown. The state currently sits at its lowest level of retail turnover since the onset of the pandemic in April 2020.

Victoria was placed into its ongoing lockdown on August 5. These restrictions are at the root of a 3% decline in retail sales for the month.

The ACT experienced the most staggering results with heavy restrictions creating a 19.9% fall in sales.

Monthly retail turnover by state and territory
ABS-retail-sales
Source – ABS

“In direct contrast, states with no lockdowns performed well with Western Australia and South Australia enjoying strong rises as physical stores were open for trade,” Mr James explained.

With no lockdown measures in place, Western Australia saw sales spring up by 2.8% in August.

South Australia bounced back strongly from a lockdown in July with a 6.6% increase in monthly sales in August.

Impact by industry

Lockdown restrictions restrict the opening of non-essential stores which heavily impacts retail trade for many industries.

The hardest hit was the clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing which fell 15.7% nationally in August.

Food retailing saw the largest rise as food retailers are generally able to operate under lockdown restrictions.

Monthly retail turnover by industry
ABS-retail-sales
Source – ABS
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