Retail sales slip in August: ABS

Australian retail turnover fell 4.2 per cent in August, seasonally adjusted, according to the preliminary data released by the ABS, with total spend reaching $29.4 billion – despite online spend hitting an all-time high during the month.

Turnover remains 6.9 per cent compared to August 2019, however.

The result, according to ABS director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James, was due to a 12.6 per cent fall in sales in Victoria with many businesses unable to trade.

“Victoria saw large falls across all industries except food retailing, as stage 3 and 4 restrictions saw many businesses unable to trade from their physical stores in August,” James said.

And although sales in Victoria saw the steepest decline most other states also saw fewer sales, with the average excluding Victoria still down 1.5 per cent.

In terms of industry sectors, household goods retailing saw the biggest fall, though remains 20 per cent up on sales a year ago. Clothing, footwear, department stores, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services also saw large declines, and food retailing saw a small decline.

This data, while preliminary, is provided by businesses that make up around 80 per cent of retail turnover. Final data for August will be released in early October.