Australian retail turnover surged 7 per cent in November as Victoria emerged from a months-long lockdown and shoppers rushed to take advantage of Black Friday sales.
But the Northern Beaches outbreak could deliver a massive blow to Sydney retailers in the crucial period before Christmas.
Preliminary figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows national retail turnover in November was 13.2 per cent higher than the same time last year.
The data pointed to a massive bounce in Victoria as shops were allowed to reopen and falling coronavirus case numbers delivered a massive boost to consumer confidence.
Turnover in the state rose by a massive 21 per cent over the month.
But other states reported impressive gains, too.
Ben James, director of quarterly economy wide surveys at ABS, said even after excluding Victoria, national retail sales still rose by an impressive 2.7 per cent in November.
But sales in South Australia were flat as a result of the state’s short-lived lockdown.
“Most South Australian retail industries saw falls as a result of temporary store closures, although these falls were offset by a rise in supermarket sales,” Mr James said.
The largest spike in monthly sales was in household goods retailing, where turnover rose by 13 per cent over the month.
The ABS said the annual Black Friday online sales coincided with major product releases to drive the surge, which led to a jump in turnover across the country.
The annual Thanksgiving sales also combined with Victoria’s reopening to drive large monthly rises in three other categories: Clothing, footwear and personal accessories, other retailing, and department stores.
Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra described the ABS figures as a “fantastic result” driven by the Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales.
“Quite simply, November was an incredible month for Australian retailers,” Mr Zahra said.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday and early Christmas shopping sales were just what the doctor ordered after what’s been a very challenging year.”
But Mr Zahra noted that the COVID-19 outbreak in Sydney’s Northern Beaches had discouraged people from visiting stores across the city “during what should be the busiest time of the year”.
Separate research from ANZ bank shows the outbreak slashed consumer confidence over the weekend by 2 per cent nationally and by 5.3 per cent in Sydney – the city’s sharpest weekly drop since July.
Record online surge
The ABS figures come just weeks after Australia Post revealed this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday online sales had smashed previous records.
According to Australia Post, 2.2 million households shopped online in the four days to Cyber Monday this year – with sales up more than 42 per cent on the same period last year.
Australians flocked to variety stores and fashion outlets during the online shopping frenzy, with sales for the two categories up 20 per cent and 41 per cent respectively.
Sales of home and garden items, meanwhile, jumped 50 per cent.
And shoppers were also keen to bag bargains on pet products and from major and discount outlets, with sales for both up more than 80 per cent year on year.
“A lot of retailers have had a great November. It’s been record-breaking for a lot of them,” RetailOasis senior retail strategist Paula Bogaz told The New Daily.
Ms Bogaz said the success of this year’s online sales far outstripped any previous years.
“But the issue with that is … in the weeks afterwards people have spent their budgets, things go back to full price and everyone is just waiting for the Boxing Day sales,” she said.
“So while November was really good, it will be interesting to see how December pans out because of that change in the timing of when consumers spend.”