Retail shows strong sales momentum

Australian retail sales increased 5.2% year on year in October, and increased 4.9% compared to the previous month, according to the latest results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Victoria and NSW led the way after emerging from lockdowns in October. Sales in Victoria are up 10.2% while NSW sales increased by 2.4% compared to the same time last year. While sales increased significantly in the ACT in October compared to the prior month, they are down 11.1% compared to October 2020.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessories bounced back strongly in October, up 5.8% compared to the same time last year. Food retailing, household goods and cafes, restaurants and takeaways also recorded positive year on year growth, however department stores are down 3.3% compared to October 2020.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says with the worst of the pandemic now behind us, retailers are gearing up for Christmas and are being spurred on by today’s Black Friday sales.

“There’s just 28 days to go till Christmas and retailers are in full swing, ramping up their operations for the busiest time of year on the retail calendar,” he says.

“With Victoria and NSW now out of lockdown, we’ve seen sales bounce back strongly in those states in October and it’s pleasing to also see clothing, footwear and personal accessories back recording positive year on year growth.

“Today’s Black Friday sales are providing businesses with strong sales momentum, with $5.4 billion forecast to be spent over the next four days, which is nearly a million dollars a minute.

“There’s offers across the board, both in stores and online, from homewares to fashion and electronics as well. The event is renowned for having the biggest retail bargains pre-Christmas and it’s gaining in popularity every year. Black Friday originated in the United States to tie in the with Thanksgiving holiday, but it’s now become a global phenomenon with spending in Australia last year up 50% on the year before.”

National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb says the results bode well for the sector given the Christmas trade period will take on added significance in 2021.

“The October rise should provide a shot in the arm for retailers across the country, given the results have been released on one of the busiest days on the shopping calendar – Black Friday,” she says.

“We’re forecasting a record $5.6 billion in sales across Australia on the four days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. We encourage shoppers to take full advantage of the many great deals on offer and to support local businesses.

“Australia’s two largest cities have been in prolonged lockdown throughout 2021. This November and December will prove crucial to not only retail but the broader economy.

“With state economies continuing to open and border closures being lifted, we’re optimistic that retail will charge home in the final straight for 2021.”

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