ABS: April retail sales collapse 18%

The ABS has released preliminary retail sales data for April, which registered a heavy 17.9% decline in turnover, the biggest decline in the series’ history:

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 17.9% (-$5,383.3m) from March 2020 to April 2020. This result is the strongest seasonally adjusted month-on-month fall in the history of the series.
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover fell 9.4% in April 2020 compared with April 2019.
  • The fall in seasonally adjusted terms in April 2020 was driven by the Food retailing industry, which fell 17.1% (-$2,444.3m) in April, following a 24.1% rise in March 2020. Sales in Food retailing are 5% above the level of April 2019.
  • The April month saw further strong falls in Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services and Clothing, footwear and personal accessories retailing. Businesses reported that regulations regarding social distancing measures limited their ability to trade as normal for the entire month. Turnover in Clothing, footwear and personal accessories, and Cafes, restaurants and takeaways in April 2020 is around half the level of April 2019.
  • April also saw a strong result for Online retailing, with 10% of total retail turnover purchased online.

No surprise given the massive pull-forward in March on the back of grocery stockpiling, alongside the COVID-19 shutdown.

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