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March COVID-19 Panic-Buying Drives Spike In Retail Sales

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures, retail turnover rose by 8.5% in March, marking a significant increase of the 0.6% rise in February. “COVID-19 heavily impacted retail trade in March. There was unprecedented demand in food retailing, household goods, and other retailing,” said Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys.

As could be expected given that shelves at Coles and Woolworths were stripped of stock throughout March, food retailing led growth, rising by 24.1%.

Other retailing increased by 16.6% and household goods retailing was up 9.1%.

However, there were substantial falls across many other retailing categories. “The impact of social distancing regulations saw sales fall in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-22.9%), and discretionary spending in clothing footwear and personal accessory retailing (-22.6%), and department stores (-8.9%), was also weak,” James said.

As of March, online retail turnover now accounts for 7.1% of the total.

Source: ABS


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