Spending across Australia enjoyed a 4.9 per cent bump in October, as restrictions eased and allowed customers and retailers a chance to reconnect in-store.
According to ABS data, the increase follows the 1.3 per cent growth seen in September and the months of falling sales prior.
“Retail performance continues to be tied to state lockdowns, as this month’s recovery was driven by the end of lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory,” said ABS’ director of quarterly economy wide statistics.
“Although sales have bounced back strongly following the end of lockdowns, it is important to note that overall retail turnover has not yet reached the level of May 2021 – the month prior to the Delta outbreak.”
Sales in New South Wales rose 13.3 per cent following its lockdown ending, while sales in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory rose 3 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.
As such, food retailing was the only category to see a sales decrease – a pattern seen as prior lockdowns have ended, as customers begin to move back to eating out.
Spending on clothing jumped 27.7 per cent, cafes and restaurants enjoyed a 12.3 per cent increase in sales, while department stores saw a sales increase of 22.4 per cent.
Dominique Lamb, chief executive of the National Retail Association, said the results were a “bright spot” for retailers.
“The October rise should provide a shot in the arm for retailers across the country, given the results have been released on one of the busiest days on the shopping calendar – Black Friday,” Lamb said.
“Australia’s two largest cities have been in prolonged lockdown throughout 2021. This November and December will prove crucial to not only retail but the broader economy.
“With state economies continuing to open and border closures being lifted, we’re optimistic that retail will charge home in the final straight for 2021.”
CreditorWatch chief economist Harley Dale called the result the “most important economic update for Australia in the last 12 months”.
“CreditorWatch data has highlighted the challenging plight of the retail sector during extended lockdowns, but we have also identified the sector as being a key leading indicator of a recovery in economic activity,” said Dale.
“That’s clearly well on its way with numerous anecdotes of a strong rebound in November with Black Friday sales heavily fuelling this.”