march retail trade preliminary report

Nationwide retail sales have rebounded from the February fall according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade preliminary report for March released today.

Turnover across Australia rose by 1.4 per cent in March with the resurgence led by Victoria and Western Australia, states that both experienced hard lockdowns in February.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the results demonstrate the volatile effect that lockdowns continue to play on the economy.

“The preliminary March figures from the ABS are on balance good news but they also highlight the current volatile economic conditions,” Ms Lamb said.

“Victoria and Western Australia showed a resurgence in March, no doubt influenced by the pent-up demand caused by the hard lockdowns both states had in February. While a short, three-day lockdown in Brisbane at the end of March was enough to plunge Queensland into negative monthly turnover.

Ms Lamb said that with JobKeeper ended, discretionary spending levels slowing and the possibility of further hard-lockdowns not over, it could remain a bumpy ride ahead for retail.

“When Australia came out of the initial lockdown after the pandemic first hit, we saw consumers really splash the cash. But we’re now starting to see discretionary purchases slowly start to taper off from the record-high levels experienced towards the end of 2020,” Ms Lamb said.

“With JobKeeper now also over, there remains a degree of uncertainty with business owners knowing they don’t have that safety net if further lockdowns occur or if economic conditions worsen.

“Challenges remain and the NRA will continue to advocate for measures that assist retail and the more than one million Australians the sector employs. In the meantime, we urge consumers to keep supporting local retailers while as a society we continue to battle a once-in-one-hundred-year pandemic.”