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Consumer Habits Change As Retail Recovers

Retail spending has surged since COVID-19, but as restrictions start easing, the way in which consumers are spending is shifting.

The Deloitte Access Economics Retail Forecast quarterly find that while a “consumer-led recovery” is occurring, spending is moving away from those businesses that benefitted from “captured consumers” towards more social-based operations, such as restaurants, events, and cafes.

“Australian retailers are set to record a bumper year in 2020-21. Spending options have been limited, and with many households having cash to burn, consumers flocked to retail,” said David Rumbens, the principal author of the report.

“This has supported what is likely to be the strongest gain in retail spending in a decade. But the next shift in consumer spending is also under way.”

“Nothing highlights this shift more than the performance of food-related retailing in early 2021. The strongest performing category over the March quarter was restaurant and cafe spending as consumers revelled in the ability to eat out and socialise,” the ­report said.

“The shift back to eating out is occurring faster than originally expected as consumers look to catch up on social activities and spend time outside the home.

“At the same time, supermarket and other specialised food retailing fell back. The shift in spending behaviour is less prominent for non-food retailers. All non-food retailing slowed over the March quarter, but sales remain ele­vated compared to a year prior.”

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