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Retail sales slip in September but remain above 2019 levels

Retail trade in September fell by $448.6 million, or 1.5 per cent, compared to August 2020.

However, when compared to the same time last year, during which the retail industry was facing the beginning of the summer bushfire crisis, the result was 5.2 per cent better off.

Australian Retailers’ Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the preliminary figures released by the ABS on Wednesday could be interpreted with optimism toward the upcoming Christmas period.

“Australian retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits during the Christmas period, and with Victoria opening up just in time, and continued government support in the form of tapered JobKeeper and JobSeeker, we expect to see reasonably positive data points during the Christmas period compared to last year,” Zahra said.

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it may not be the typical Christmas that we’re all used to.”

And while food retailing and household retailing saw month-on-month falls, these industries continue to trade at levels above the same period of 2019.

Sales in clothing, footwear and personal accessories also fell, though was offset by gains seen in department stores, cafes, restaurants and takeaway food.

It came as little surprise, Zahra said, that Victoria dragged the overall result down by way of most retailers being shut during the August to September period. Retailers will be able to reopen doors to customers in the state on November 2nd.

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