Peak industry body the National Retail Association (NRA) has declared the nosedive in December sales as further need for more government support for small businesses.
Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its December 2021 report which revealed an alarming 4.4 per cent drop in nationwide retail turnover compared to the previous month.
NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said the results confirmed that it has been a challenging summer for many retailers.
“December is traditionally the busiest month of the year due to Christmas shopping. The drop in retail sales revealed today by the ABS confirms that the sector is facing a very challenging period,” Ms Lamb said.
“More Christmas shopping is taking place in November these days with events such as Black Friday, but the nosedive in monthly retail sales for December is the worst since April 2020.
“The Omicron surge has certainly cautioned people from heading out to the shops and many CBD workers continue to work from home. Lockdown restrictions may have been lifted in many parts of the country, but consumer confidence is very weak.”
Ms Lamb said the December figures confirmed internal NRA data showing that small businesses are in urgent need of assistance.
“Internal NRA data indicates that 95 per cent of small businesses surveyed had been negatively impacted by Omicron. While a majority have had to decrease casual staff levels, implement alternative rosters, and reduce trading hours,” Ms Lamb said.
“Small businesses are the ones directly in the firing line at present and they are in urgent need of stimulus measures to stay afloat.
“The NRA is calling on state and federal governments to work together to provide support to smaller retailers who have suffered steep revenue drops during what is typically the busiest time of year.
“Australia had to gradually open up again, but we don’t want to come out of a health emergency only to be plunged in an economic crisis.”