Retail Trade figures

The National Retail Association (NRA) has said that while today’s Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) preliminary retail trade figures for March represent the largest jump in sales on record, it will be followed by a massive fall in turnover from April onwards.

The preliminary figures show an 8.2 per cent rise in sales for March, eclipsing the previous record of 8.1 per cent recorded in June 2000, the month prior to the introduction of the GST.

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

“March saw the peak in panic buying in supermarkets, particularly for items such as toilet paper, rice and pasta. Today’s report also shows a nosedive in sales for cafes, restaurants, takeaway food services, and clothing,” Ms Lamb said.

“April will be the first full month to incorporate the full extent of the lockdown restrictions, social distancing and the scaling down of services for cafes and restaurants. Retail is therefore bracing itself for very sobering results for April onwards.

“It would also seem that the panic buying peak is behind us, so supermarkets are likely to see a downwards correction in their sales from now on. This remains an unprecedented economic challenge and struggling retailers need as much support as possible from governments at all levels to survive the COVID-19 crisis.”