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17.9% Drop In April Marks Historical Fall In Retail Turnover

According to preliminary figures from the ABS, Australia’s retail turnover was down 17.9% in seasonally adjusted terms in April, marking the sharpest fall in the history of the ABS’ Retail Trade survey. Year-on-year, retail turnover was down 9.4%.

“While March saw a mix of impacts related to COVID-19 across industries, these impacts were overwhelmingly negative in April, as regulations regarding social distancing measures limited the ability of businesses to trade as normal for the entire month,” the ABS said.

All categories in the ABS Retail Trade survey fell in April, with both the ‘clothing, footwear and personal accessories’ and ‘cafes, restaurants and takeaways’ around half the level they were a year ago. Food retailing fell by 17.1%.

Overall, retail turnover in April totalled an estimated $24.7 billion.

Source: ABS Retail Trade Survey April 2020 (preliminary figures)

However, it is worth noting that these preliminary figures will be subject to revision. This preliminary ABS data is complied from businesses that make up roughly 80% of total retail turnover. Final ABS figures are due in early June.

In April online retailing accounted for 10% of the total.

Given that businesses reported social distancing measures being a key reason for the drop in April, retailers are hopeful that sales growth will pick up again. In early May a number of shopping malls reported increased customer traffic, and this week Roy Morgan reported that consumer confidence was up for the seventh week in a row.

Taken in May 2020

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