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Aussie Retail Up 14.4% On Pre-Pandemic Levels

Shoppers have started to spend up big again, despite rising Omicron cases, staff shortages, and supply chain issues crippling the retailing sector.

This is according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

Retail sales in January increased 4.9 per cent compared to Jan 2020, rising by 14.4 per cent on 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

All states and territories recorded an increase in sales year-on-year, with Victoria posting the strongest retail figures, up 8.3 per cent.

Household goods were the best-performing sector, up 10.4 per cent year-on-year, while department stores took a tumble for the eighth consective month, down 2.7 per cent.

“January was an up and down month for retailers,” notes Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra.

“We began the year with a surge in Omicron cases, which impacted local supply chains and forced tens of thousands of workers into isolation each day.

“However, towards the end of the month, we saw daily caseloads start to come down, close contact isolation requirements were eased for essential workers and consumer spending started to lift. Overall, we’ve had a soft landing from Omicron and the impacts on sales have not been as severe as we originally feared.

“However, it remains an uneven recovery depending on what type of business you have and where you’re located and cashflow concerns remain a challenge for many retailers coupled with rising supply chain costs.

“CBD retailers are a focus on our path to recovery with foot traffic through our capital cities still quite low with the absence of international tourists and exacerbated by people continuing to work from home. We are looking forward to the international border reopening, which is the first step towards the revitalisation of our city centres.

“Staff shortages will continue to compound recovery challenges and we continue to engage state and federal governments on solutions to this crisis, ” Zahra continues.

“Supply chain issues are also continuing to bite, with many businesses having to make earlier upfront payments for stock due to manufacturing and shipping delays, with container costs significantly higher than their usual rates.

“Retailers have been resilient throughout the pandemic and will be breathing a sigh of relief that the worst of Omicron appears to have passed, and that consumer spending has remained fairly upbeat through this challenging period.”



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