ABS Confirms Retail Sales Carnage

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

The final quarter of the June 30 year will be rough for Australia’s retailers – it looks like none will trade at a profit in the three months to June following a record 17.9% slide in retail sales for the month of April.

According to the preliminary report for the month from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, April’s slump was a more than 26% turnaround from the 8.5% rise in March.

In dollar terms, the fall as estimated around $5.4 billion from March’s record $30.1 billion and if confirmed in the final figures next month, would see the total for April back under $25 billion and levels last seen in 2016.

The ABS said turnover was 9.4% when compared to the April, 2019 figure of $27.3 billion.

April’s 17.9% slump easily topped the previous record drop of 10.6% set in July 2000 when the month the GST started.

The ABS said food retailing, which soared 24.1% in March, suffered a 17.1% slide in April, meaning they were still higher than the February figure.

While there was a drop-off in sales of hoarded goods, the bureau said they still remained at levels higher than April last year.

“These preliminary figures, which will be subject to revision, show falls in every industry, with particularly strong falls in food retailing, cafes, restaurants and takeaways, and clothing, footwear and personal accessories,” The ABS said in commentary.

“While March saw a mix of impacts related to COVID-19 across industries, these impacts were overwhelmingly negative in April, as regulations regarding social distancing measures limited the ability of businesses to trade as normal for the entire month.

“Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, and department stores fell heavily in April and there were no offsetting rises in the other industries.

“Turnover in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, and cafes, restaurants and takeaways is around half the level of April 2019.

Glenn Dyer

About Glenn Dyer

Glenn Dyer has been a finance journalist and TV producer for more than 40 years. He has worked at Maxwell Newton Publications, Queensland Newspapers, AAP, The Australian Financial Review, The Nine Network and Crikey.

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