The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) preliminary report for September shows a 1.5% fall in monthly turnover.
The results follow a year in which retail sales have fluctuated wildly on a month-to-month basis following bouts of panic-buying, lockdown measures and stimulus packages that have boosted discretionary spending.
NRA Deputy CEO Lindsay Carroll said the August results underline the uncertain time confronting the industry and the broader economy.
“It’s been a very turbulent year for retail, there was a record drop in turnover in April but that was then followed by three consecutive months of increased sales. The future is going to remain rather uncertain, with the full impact of the recession expected to occur over the next six months,” says Ms Carroll.
“The prolonged lockdown in Victoria always meant there was likely to be a dip in nationwide turnover in September. It was also inevitable that the high rates of discretionary spending seen earlier in the year would ease.”
Ms Carroll said that retailers across the country will be hoping that consumers are eager to spend with the sector soon to enter the crucial Christmas trade period.
“The Christmas trade period is the most important time of year for retail. Large revenue gains in the final six weeks of the calendar year are crucial to many businesses, particularly that we’re now in a recession.
“Sales event such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday will also be taking place at the end of November and offer shoppers bargain prices less than a month out until Christmas.”
“The 2020 Christmas season is going to be absolutely pivotal for retail and we encourage consumers to not be shy in splurging on gifts. A solid festive season for retail will go a long way to mitigating the current economic downturn.”