Retail Figures a False Dawn

The National Retail Association (NRA) has said that while today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade figures for February 2020 are good, they represent a false dawn considering the economic turmoil that has occurred since March.

Retail turnover for the second month of 2020 rose by 0.5 per cent, following poor results for December 2019 and January 2020.

However, NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that the February figures needed to be put into context given the impact Covid-19 has had since then.

“The results for February are quite good, but unfortunately they do not indicate a retail recovery given the events that have transpired in recent weeks,” Ms Lamb said.

“As the ABS notes, there was a significant increase in supermarket purchases in February due to the panic-buying that occurred. While this is good for those businesses it also means that the rise in turnover was most certainly not spread across the sector.

“And, of course, we had a number of restrictions placed on businesses in March to combat the health threat of Covid-19. This has seen many retailers either close their doors entirely, downsize their operations or offer only limited services.

“The March figures will no doubt make for much more sober reading as the entire economy battles the side-effects of this horrible pandemic.”

Earlier this week, the NRA released a 10-point plan to save thousands of jobs and businesses.

“On Monday, the NRA unveiled our 10-point plan to save retail jobs following the escalation of Covid-19. Some of the points in our plan have been partially implemented, and some no doubt are in the pipeline but we believe they offer quick and effective measures to curb the current crisis.”

“Retailers are very keen to be part of the solution. We look forward to engaging more with both levels of government to get business moving again as soon as possible.” Ms Lamb said.

The plan includes:

  • Ensuring a consistent approach across all states to the National Rental Relief Scheme;
  • National Wage Subsidies, to get money into workers’ hands quickly;
  • Deferral of the Minimum Wage Review;
  • Further financial support for sole traders, micro business and small business;
  • All states to freeze Land Tax payments
  • Banks to freeze loan repayments, not defer them or compound the interest;
  • Federal fund for significantly impacted industries – tourism, fitness, hospitality and retail;
  • Investment in digital upskilling for business;
  • Begin work on a retail recovery plan, to help businesses reopen as soon as it is safe to do so
  • Fund a consumer confidence campaign, to get shoppers backing local retail as soon as possible.


Has your business been affected by COVID-19? The NRA has developed the Covid-19 Impact Survey to help us collect strong data to assist our advocacy and provide solutions that matter most to retailers now and in the Covid-19 recovery phase.  We are calling on all retailers – small, medium and large – to complete this 10 minute survey available via the link below.

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