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Retail Turnover Was Up 0.5% In February, Before COVID-19 Really Hit Australia

packed Woolworths store

According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures, Australia’s retail turnover rose by 0.5% in February 2020. This followed a fall of 0.3% in January, and a decline of 0.6% in December 2019.

“Retailers reported a range of impacts from COVID-19 in February, with increases in food retailing slightly offset by falls in more discretionary spending,” Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, said.

Year-on-year, discretionary and non-discretionary grocery spending increased by 6.1% and 9.4%, respectively.

In addition, department stores recorded growth of 3.1% in February, while food retailing was up 0.8% and household goods rose by 0.7%.

However, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing fell by 2.9%.

By state, retail turnover rose the most in Western Australia (1.2%), followed by the ACT (1.1%), Queensland (0.8%), Victoria (0.5%) and South Australia (0.4%). No growth was recorded in NSW and Tasmania, while turnover fell by 0.7% in the Northern Territory.

Online retail turnover contributed 6.6% to the sector’s total turnover in February, up from a contribution of 5.6% a year before.

Given the fast-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and related government restrictions, the ABS has said that they will be temporarily suspending trend estimates for the sector, stating: “The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in retail.”

Source: ABS

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