The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has today revealed that retail sales rose by 2.7 per cent in June, however retail volumes fell by a sharp 3.4 per cent for the June 2020 quarter.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that the reintroduction of lockdowns in Victoria, the return of panic buying in parts of the country and general nervousness over a second COVID-19 wave meant that retail would continue to experience a challenging period in the months ahead.

“Although there was a sold rise for the month of June, retail volumes for the quarter went backwards by the biggest amount since the introduction of the GST,” Ms Lamb said.

“It was the first full month that restaurants and clothing stores had been allowed to trade, with many being forced to close in April and May. We expected a pickup in sales for these businesses but turnover for this section of retail is still well below June 2019.

Ms Lamb noted that the situation in Victoria demonstrates that retail is in for a bumpy road ahead, particularly if other states are also forced to reintroduce restrictions.

“Victoria entering Stage 4 lockdown ensures that retailers in that state will certainly suffer immensely for the foreseeable future.

“We’re starting to see a return of panic buying in certain parts of the country, with consumers starting to get nervous about a possible uptick in infections.

“With only one per cent of retailers looking to employ more people at present, business confidence remains stubbornly low. The extensions of JobKeeper and JobSeeker will help, but employers will continue to be very cautious over the period ahead.”