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Retail sales enjoy slight bump in September ahead of holiday period

Australian retail turnover rose 1.3 per cent during the month of September, the first month-on-month increase since May 2021 after the Delta outbreak led to a decrease in spending in parts of the country.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, sales in Queensland hit their highest level ever during the month, while other states which remained in lockdown continued to struggle, said director of quarterly economy wide statistics Ben James.

“Retail turnover continues to vary state by state, based on whether restrictions were imposed, removed or extended,” said James.

During the month, household goods continued to see strong sales growth (4.3 per cent), while clothing, footwear and personal accessories rose 5.9 per cent.

Food retailing saw a large fall by 1.4 per cent, which follows suit with other periods where lockdowns have ended and people have once again been able to eat in – conversely, sales in cafes and restaurants rose 5 per cent.

Online sales also rose by 3.3 per cent compared to the month prior – a much smaller increase than the 9.7 per cent increase in August – said NAB in its September Online Retail Sales Index.

In year-on-year terms sales rose 31.3 per cent – an impressive feat considering last September sales rose over 61 per cent on the year prior, according to NAB chief economist Alan Oster.

“Metro VIC led the growth in the month, while regional NSW was the second fastest,” Oster said.

“In QLD, the contraction was considerably worse for metro areas, which aligns with previous post-lockdown experiences. Having said that, in year-on-year terms, metro QLD is still up 15.5%.”

Clothing sales also led sales growth online, while department stores slowed after seeing a large jump in growth a month prior.

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