September Retail Sales Lose Momentum

By Glenn Dyer | More Articles by Glenn Dyer

Annual growth in retail sales is slowing, despite a spate of upbeat updates for the September quarter from a number of small groups, especially online specialists.

The early report on September retail sales from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday not only showed a 1.5% quarter on quarter drop from August (when sales fell 4.2%) from July), but the annual growth fell to a still-solid 5.2%.

But that was down on the 6.9% annual rate in August and 12.2% in July.

That still leaves retail sales in the September quarter up more than 6% from the same quarter of 2019 after falling in the June quarter.

But it is clear the sector is losing momentum COVID-19 pandemic pressures ease and federal government support packages are being wound back.

The ABS said that September saw “Food retailing, household goods retailing, and other retailing (which includes online-only retailers) recorded falls this month” said Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys.

“These industries have recorded elevated levels of turnover during the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to trade above the levels of September 2019.”

“Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing also fell in September 2020. The falls were slightly offset by rises in department stores, and cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services, which recorded rises after significant falls in August 2020. “

While the lockdown in Victoria has cut sales momentum, there are clear signs sales growth is slowing in other states. In fact, the ABS said sales fell in all states and territories, except for the Northern Territory.

“Following a large fall in August, Victoria recorded a small monthly fall in September. Victoria remains the only state or territory to be trading below the level of September 2019.

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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