Australia’s economy has shown further signs of recovery as consumers, especially lockdown-weary Victorians, indulged in more shopping.
Retail sales lifted sharply to $29.6 billion in October, up 1.4 per cent compared to the previous month.
The Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures also revealed that sales had surged (+7.1 per cent) in the past 12 months.
The ABS said the result was driven by Victoria’s “reopening of physical stores”, as strict COVID-19 lockdown restrictions began to ease slightly a couple of months ago.
Sales in Victoria jumped 5.1 per cent, far higher than any other state and territory.
By comparison, retail trade rose moderately in NSW (+0.7 per cent), Western Australia (+1 per cent) and South Australia (+0.6 per cent).
But they fell in Queensland (-0.5 per cent), Tasmania (-1.4 per cent), the Northern Territory (-0.6 per cent) and Australia Capital Territory (-0.1 per cent).
Panic buying eases
The industries that had the biggest jump in sales were cafes, restaurants and takeaway food (+5.4 per cent), department stores (+4.5 per cent) and clothing, footwear and personal accessories (+6.8 per cent).
On the other end of the spectrum, household good sales dropped (-1 per cent) as customers had already spent big on building and gardening supplies, electronics, and furniture earlier in 2020 when the pandemic began.
As the urge to “panic buy” subsided, so did sales at supermarkets and grocery stores (-0.7 per cent).
However, Australians continued to enjoy their alcohol, with liquor retailing jumping 3.1 per cent.
Retail sales have been extremely volatile in the past few months.
The first-wave of coronavirus infections led to sales plunging 17.7 per cent in April, the worst result ever recorded by the ABS.
One month later, retail trade had its best result ever, surging 16.9 per cent as customers ramped up their panic buying.
More recently, as consumers began to calm down, sales fell sharply in August (-4 per cent) and September (-1.1 per cent).