The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) retail trade report for May has revealed that turnover was bolstered with the easing of lockdown measures across the country.
The May report recorded a significant 16.9 per cent increase following the disastrous 17.7 per cent nosedive for April 2020.
National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said that although the May results are cause for some optimism, the broader context still shows that retail is a long way from recovery.
“April saw the full might of lockdown restrictions hit the retail sector, with an unprecedented drop in turnover. The easing of restrictions in May was always going to see sales rebound, but it is still pleasing to see a sizeable increase,” Ms Lamb said.
“With all states and territories, other than Victoria, continuing to gradually lift restrictions we will be very interested to see what the June and July figures reveal when they are released later in the year.
“In this volatile environment, we can’t simply look at one month and take that as a barometer as to how retail is travelling. The past three months have seen retail trade go up and down like a yo-yo, so we need to be careful about thinking we’ve almost reached a recovery.
“Australia is in its first recession in 30 years and many retailers remain coy about the future given JobKeeper is due to end in September. The situation in Victoria is also a sage reminder that the re-imposition of lockdown measures remains a distinct possibility.
The largest month-on-month increase occurred in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing that rose by a whopping 129.2 per cent due to non-essential shopping being granted in May. Each state and territory recorded a rise in turnover, with Western Australia achieving the largest uptick thanks to an extensive lifting of business restrictions.