December sales up 9.6 per cent on last year, but fall on November

face masks
Retailers are optimistic about impact of mask wearing. IMage: Bigstock.

Retail sales volumes rose 2.5 per cent in the December quarter as Victorians recovered from the state’s lockdown and went shopping, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Without the rise in Victoria the total figure would have fallen, said ABS’ director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James.

And, compared to December last year, turnover increased 9.6 per cent to $30.4 billion.

Australian Retailers’ Association chief executive Paul Zahra called the December result fantastic, but that sales may soften in 2021.

“Whilst we don’t expect a financial cliff… JobKeeper and the JobSeeker coronavirus supplements are due to end in March, and that may have an impact on consumer spending,” Zahra said.

“As we’ve seen recently in West Australia and Victoria – things are very unpredictable at the moment [but] despite everything that has been thrown at them, retailers have shown great resilience to weather the Coid storm and remain cautiously optimistic for the year ahead.”

On a month-by-month basis, retail turnover in December fell 4.1 per cent, updated after the preliminary results released earlier this month, after the rise of 7.1 per cent in November.

“Victoria led falls at the state and territory level following stronger trade in November as Covid-19 restrictions eased,” James said.

“New South Wales also fell as the Northern Beaches cluster impacted spending in the lead up the Christmas.”

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