Retail sales pick up after Victoria reopens

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AUSTRALIAN retail turnover rose 1.6% in October, helped by Victoria’s tentative steps out of its second lockdown, as nearly all industries recorded improvement.

According to seasonally adjusted preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, turnover nationally grew by 7.3% in annual terms.

“The reopening of retail stores in Victoria at the end of October led to a boost to all industries, with the exception of food retailing,” director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, Ben James said.

Having spent the bulk of September with most retail shut down, Victoria turnover rose 5.2% from month-on-month, but remained 5.7% below the levels of 12 months earlier.

NSW recorded a 1.6% uplift following falls in August and September. Western Australia saw a minor monthly rise but led the annual gains with 15.1%.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services led the rises. Increases were also seen in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, other retailing, and department stores.

Comparable sales at major department store David Jones fell 14.6% over the first 20 weeks of the new financial year, with figures dragged down by Victoria.

Victorian stores were down 76%, while across the rest of the country, David Jones sales lifted 6.7%.

Online sales jumped 65% compared to the prior corresponding period, accounting for 19.6% of total sales.

Woolworths Holdings, David Jones’ South African parent company, said inventory was well managed, although the pandemic continued to impact group supply chains.

Country Road Group – also owned by Woolworths Holdings, and which includes the Country Road, Mimco, Politix, Trenery and Witchery brands – saw comparable sales down 7.7%, again largely due to Victoria’s lockdown. Sales grew 6.5% across the rest of the country.

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