The Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that retailers suffered a historic drop in sales in April amid the COVID-19 lockdowns.
Retail trade fell 17.7 per cent in April, ABS figures showed on Thursday, a minor revision to preliminary figures released earlier showing a 17.9 per cent drop.
“There were record falls in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-35.4 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-53.6 per cent), as well as a large fall in department stores (-14.9 per cent),” said Ben James, director of the Australian Bureau of Statistics quarterly economy-wide surveys.
Food retailing led the fall in dollar terms, declining 17.4 per cent from March, when there was a historic rise as households stockpiled goods.
Spending on food was still up 5.1 per cent from a year ago as more meals were consumed at home.
Spending on clothing, footwear and personal accessory plunged 53.6 per cent.
There was a steep rise in online retail turnover, which contributed 11.1 per cent to total retail turnover in April, up from 7.1 per cent a year ago.
Online sales made up 20.5 per cent of sales of household goods, clothing and footwear, the ABS said.