Lockdowns see record 4.4% fall in quarterly retail sales

Media Release

Australian retail sales volumes fell a record 4.4 per cent in the September quarter 2021, seasonally adjusted, according to the Retail Trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), following a 0.7 per cent rise in the June quarter.

Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics said: “The Delta outbreak from late June led to protracted lockdowns in many mainland jurisdictions, with the restrictions causing many retailers to close their physical stores throughout the September quarter. This resulted in the largest quarterly fall in national sales volumes ever recorded.

“Similar to previous lockdown periods, sales volumes fell in most of the discretionary spending industries with cafes restaurants and takeaway food services (-18.7 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-25.1 per cent), department stores (-19.5 per cent) and household goods retailing (-4.3 per cent) significantly down in volume terms.”

Food retailing volumes rose 5.3 per cent with consumers unable to eat out, increasing their grocery spending with large periods of time at home. Volumes for 'other retailing', the category that includes large online-only retailers, were up 0.9 per cent with an increase in online spending during the quarter.

New South Wales (-11.6 per cent) experienced the largest volume fall of all the states and territories, reflecting the lockdown restrictions in place in Greater Sydney and throughout most regions for the entire September quarter. Victoria (-4.5 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (-13.9 per cent) were the other state and territory to see volume falls.

Other states and territories that were less affected by lockdowns all saw increased sales volumes in the September quarter. Western Australia led the rises, up 4.1 per cent, followed by South Australia (1.7 per cent), Queensland (0.2 per cent), Tasmania (2.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (0.2 per cent).

More detailed industry and state analysis and further information on the statistical methodology is available in Retail Trade, Australia (cat no. 8501.0).

The ABS thanks all those who contributed data to this release. Further ABS data measuring the impact of COVID-19 on Australia can be found on the ABS website.

Media notes

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