While the majority of retailers shut their doors for the COVID-19 lockdown, the Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra, says that the March retail trade figures released reporting year-on-year growth of 10.1% were consistent with expectations of strong pre-lockdown specific growth category.
As Australians adapted to restrictions and stocked up on additional items for lockdown, the retail saw a boost in household goods (10.3%). The figures additionally confirm stronger expenditure year-on-year across food (+27.2%), liquor (+33.9%) and pharmacy (+29.4%).
“March was the eye of the COVID-19 storm for retailers…” explains Mr Zahra.
“… with all but essential service retailers forced into closure of their physical stores during lockdown. Whilst that pain of closure has continued during April and into May, we have seen some gentle upside begin, as many stores enhance their online and delivery services.”
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“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have anticipated a spike in certain categories as people adjust to restrictions, but these increases mask bigger falls across discretionary categories, which has proved a significant challenge,” says Mr Zahra.
“It’s been unquestionably tough for retailers, and the true recovery picture won’t start to emerge until physical stores reopen more fully in the coming weeks. We are likely to see a phased re-opening – retailers have different considerations some will open key stores and wait to open others. Some have cafes attached and will need to delay that area opening. Others are still negotiating with landlords.
“Whilst we expect Australians to soon celebrate their freedom with one of their favourite leisure activities – shopping – we do anticipate continued caution by consumers for some months forward as they assess overall economic conditions.”
To read the full media release presented by ARA, click here.