Retail turnover up 3.2% in July, VIC still lagging behind

Retailers had a good month in July with a nationwide rise in turnover of 3.2 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

"Retail sales in July 2020 were 12 per cent above July 2019, with sales in household goods particularly strong, 29.4 per cent above the same month last year," says director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, Ben James.

Household goods (four per cent) led the monthly rises, as consumers continued to purchase large items for homes, but there were also large rises in other retailing, (4.4 per cent) and food (1.2 per cent).

While most states saw rises, Victoria, which is currently still in lockdown, fell -2.1 per cent in July.

Unfortunately the future is still uncertain, especially with most retail stores not being able to open in Melbourne for another seven weeks.

As Australia plunges into its first recession since 1991, the final months of 2020 and the first economic quarter of 2021 will reveal just how much the sector will be impacted by the recession, says National Retail Association (NRA) CEO, Dominique Lamb.

“The July figures are good, but they need to be put into proper context,” she says.

“The true extent of the economic fallout from this recession is yet to be felt, the next six months are going to be very difficult for all industries.

“We’re operating in highly volatile times and there’s myriad of variables at play. JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments have lifted spending, but these are temporary measures that will end at some point, while some degree of restrictions will remain in place until a vaccine arrives.

“We still only have around 80 per cent of shopping centre stores trading and the drop in tourism dollars from international and domestic border closures are bound to have an impact.

“The period ahead remains a very uncertain one and retail remains on guard over how difficult the challenges ahead will be. In the meantime, we urge consumers to support their local retailers, while also complying with social distancing protocols.”