Retail sales begin to slow as lockdowns take their toll

Wednesday 21 July 2021

Lockdowns in Victoria and Greater Sydney have contributed to a 1.8% fall in retail sales in June compared to the previous month, according to preliminary figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said month on month sales in Victoria fell 3.5% and dropped 2% in NSW, given the Covid restrictions that were imposed in Australia’s two largest states.

However, despite the lockdown impacts through the year sales remain positive, up 2.9% compared to June 2020.

“Today’s figures for June come as no surprise with Victoria battling its fourth lockdown earlier in the month and Greater Sydney subject to stay-at-home orders a couple of weeks later,” Mr Zahra said.

“Lockdowns have a direct impact on consumer confidence and retail spending, and we fear the worst is yet to come with restrictions imposed across multiple states in July.

“Two weeks ago, National Cabinet agreed that lockdowns would be used as a last resort to managing new Covid outbreaks, but they appear to be with us for the rest of the year given concerns with the Delta variant.

“We’ve seen 68 days of state-imposed lockdowns already in 2021 and there’s no doubt that number will continue to climb.

“Small businesses in particular are in crisis and a bearing the full brunt of lockdowns. Whilst existing support arrangements are welcomed, it’s not enough to stem the losses. We need to see an urgent return of effective support schemes like JobKeeper and the Leasing Code of Conduct that were so beneficial in keeping businesses alive during the first phase of the pandemic.

“Vaccines are key to seeing the back of lockdowns and restrictions. They are our only ticket to freedom and the retail industry stands ready to help expediate vaccination rates in any way it can.”

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