Retail sales up 1.6pc as Victoria re-opens

Retail sales rose by 1.6 per cent in October, helped by shops being allowed to trade again in Victoria after coronavirus restrictions were eased.

The increase equated to Australians spending $460.5 million more at shops than in September, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted Australian Bureau of Statistics data.

Victorians’ retail spending rose 5.2 per cent as the state government allowed shops to re-open at the end of October.

NSW recorded a 1.6 per cent increase after declines in September and August.

Australians’ biggest spending increase was in cafes and restaurants and on takeaway food.

There were also rises for clothing, footwear and personal accessories.

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra said the increase in spending in Victoria was a promising sign.

He was optimistic about Christmas trade and said most retailers expected to take more in online sales than at the same time last year.

NAB economics director Tapas Strickland noted that retail sales during the pandemic continued to track higher than pre-COVID ones.

While this might seem remarkable, this is because the Bureau’s retail sales survey does not include sectors hit hard by the pandemic such as travel and pubs and clubs.

ANZ economists David Plank and Adelaide Timbrell said they expected November retail sales to be much stronger than recent months.

They expected more consumer demand in Melbourne, following the eased virus restrictions.

The final monthly estimate of October sales will be published on December 4.

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