Retail turnover falls 17.7 per cent in April

Australian retail turnover fell 17.7 per cent in April 2020, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.

This is a minor revision to the fall of 17.9 per cent published in the preliminary retail turnover release of 20 May 2020. The fall follows a rise of 8.5 per cent in March 2020.

“COVID-19 continued to affect retail trade in April with many retail businesses closing their physical stores during April due to restrictions relating to social distancing” said Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys. “There were record falls in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-35.4 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-53.6 per cent), as well as a large fall in department stores (-14.9 per cent).”

Food retailing (-17.4 per cent) led the falls in dollar terms this month following unprecedented demand in March. Spending in food retailing remains 5.1 per cent above the level of April 2019, likely reflecting additional meals being consumed at home during April 2020. Other retailing (-14.4 per cent) fell after a large rise in March, while household goods retailing (-0.1 per cent) saw a minor fall in sales as falls from closures of some physical stores were offset by a rise in hardware, building and garden supply retailing.

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were falls in Victoria (-21.1 per cent), New South Wales (-17.5 per cent), Queensland (-15.7 per cent), Western Australia (-16.8 per cent), South Australia (-14.6 per cent), Tasmania (-17.5 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-14.9 per cent), and the Northern Territory (-7.7 per cent) in April 2020.

The closure of physical stores in some industries led to a rise in online retail turnover, which contributed 11.1 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms in April 2020, up from 7.1 per cent in March 2020. In April 2019, online retail turnover contributed 5.7 per cent to total retail. Additional analysis noted that online sales made up over 20.5 per cent of sales across household goods retailing, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, department stores, and other retailing.

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