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Australian retail spending increases in September

Australian retail spending increased 17.9 per cent in September as customers spent $35.1 billion both in stores and online, according to new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

As businesses continue to cycle through last year’s Delta lockdowns, “substantial” sales increases were seen across all categories.

The largest year-on-year growth was registered in clothing, footwear and personal accessories at 70.4 per cent followed by department stores at 53.6 per cent and cafe, restaurant and takeaway services at 52.6 per cent.

Other retailing grew by 11.5 per cent while household goods retailing increased by 10.6 per cent. Food retailing recorded the lowest growth compared to last year at 4 per cent.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra described the rise as a “phenomenal result” despite challenging economic conditions.

“While there is a lot to celebrate, we are mindful of the impact that inflation and higher prices have on these sales results.

“We are likely to see many Australians bring their spending forward this Christmas, as they aim to get in ahead of inflationary increases, avoid supply issues and secure their gifts well ahead of the Christmas rush.”

Zahra cautioned sales will soften early next year and there will be a “lag effect” from current inflationary conditions.

By state, ACT recorded the highest growth at 52.8 per cent followed by NSW at 25.9 per cent, Victoria at 22.9 per cent, Queensland at 9.7 per cent, SA at 8.7 per cent, WA at 7.8 per cent, Tasmania at 6.1 per cent and NT at 5 per cent.

The National Retail Association’s interim chief Lindsay Carroll said the steady increase in retail spending was driven by the increasing cost of food and produce.

“Consumers have had no choice but to adapt to paying the extra costs of their weekly grocery shop that have been pushed up by weather events on the east coast, higher labour and fuel costs and overseas demand for Australian produce.”

She added retailers are now in a position to “guide” customers’ purchase decisions with discounts and special offers as shoppers get ready to splurge on festive spending.

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