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February cashless retail sales suggest a return to normality: NAB

Cashless retail sales for the month of February have stayed relatively flat, according to NAB’s most recent index, rising only 0.3 per cent month on month, from 18.9 per cent to 19.1 per cent.

However, given the volatility seen in the retail industry in the last year, NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster said the result was “fairly good” – though suggests some of the outsized growth seen during 2020 is returning to more “normal” levels.

“The onset of the pandemic has seen profound changes for Australian retail, with the sector in aggregate going from the weakest sector in the NAB Monthly Business Survey to one of the strongest,” Oster said.

“But as 2021 rolls on and the prospect of some kind of post-pandemic normality comes into view via vaccination, how will consumers respond? Early signs […] suggest that household goods and other retailing are returning closer to pre-pandemic growth, while food has now fallen to essentially pre-pandemic levels.

“Meanwhile, cafes, restaurants and takeaways continue to recover.”

The fastest growth was seen in Western Australia, according to NAB, with cashless retail sales up 22 per cent. Victoria, however, saw the slowest growth – largely a result of its impromptu five-day lockdown during the month.

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