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Retail sales recover in April, but recovery remains uneven

After retail sales slipped in March due to a continued return toward ‘normal’ trading, monthly turnover recovered slightly in April 2021, rising 1.1 per cent after the 0.5 per cent drop last month.

According to the latest preliminary figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, April’s year-on-year turnover rose 25.1 per cent – a large jump due to the massive impact the initial Covid-19 lockdown measures had on the industry this time last year.

“Autumn is a traditionally quiet period for retail, so the fact that sales have continued to tick along bodes well for the sector,” said National Retail Association chief executive Dominique Lamb.

“The end of JobKeeper did have many retailers concerned, but the early signs are that the Australian economy continues to charter a strong recovery.”

ARA boss Paul Zahra said that while comparisons to the same period of 2020 are difficult, due to the nature of the implementation of retail lockdowns across the country, the figures showed a positive trajectory for the industry but that not all retailers have properly recovered.

“Whilst today’s results are pleasing, it doesn’t paint a complete picture of what the retail sector is going through,” Zahra said.

“Our recovery is uneven, and some businesses are in a better position than others. CBD retailers, particularly small businesses, along with travel retailers are our biggest concern.

“They continue to suffer through the absence of international students, tourists, and city office workers.”

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