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Retail slumps as hoarders leave toilet paper for the rest of us

  • June 08 2020
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Retail slumps as hoarders leave toilet paper for the rest of us

By Cameron Micallef
June 08 2020

Australia’s retail consumption plummeted in April following strong gains off the back of panic buying in March, official figures show.

Retail slumps

Retail slumps as hoarders leave toilet paper for the rest of us

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  • June 08 2020
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Australia’s retail consumption plummeted in April following strong gains off the back of panic buying in March, official figures show.

Retail slumps

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.

The major falls were led by food retailing, which fell after Woolworths and Coles both reported double-digit growth in sales during March.

April’s fall in overall retail consumption 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.

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Food retailing (-17.4 per cent) led the falls in dollar terms this month following unprecedented demand in March.

Spending on 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.

However, food retailers were not the only ones impacted by COVID-19, with store closures and restaurants not being able to seat patrons taking a major hit.

“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),” Mr James explained.

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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About the author

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Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

About the author

Cameron is a journalist for Momentum Media's nestegg and Smart Property Investment. He enjoys giving Aussies practical financial tips and tricks to help grow their wealth and achieve financial independence. As a self-confessed finance nerd, Cameron enjoys chatting with industry experts and commentators to leverage their insights to grow your portfolio.

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