Mr Zahra praised the Victorian government’s roadmap to reopening released on Sunday, which allows all retail businesses to open once the population hits 80% double-dose vaccinations, which is expected on the 5th November.
But that means discretionary retail still has seven weeks of closure; although hairdressers and personal care services are allowed to reopen once the state hits 70% of double doses.
Mastercard data shows a 6.1% month-over-month drop in clothing sales in August, which, applied to ABS data, would mean sales plummet to $ 1.8 billion for the month , down nearly 30% from $ 2.5 billion in May.
Department store sales were also down 3.5% year-on-year and 7% from 2019 levels, with brick-and-mortar retailers the hardest hit by door-to-door orders – although sales edged up by month to month. .
A recent Roy Morgan poll conducted for the ARA found that about 80 percent of people are expected to spend as much or more on Christmas shopping this year. This will hopefully equate to around $ 11 billion in freebies.
But Mr Zahra said that would only happen if governments implemented their plans to reopen 70% of double-dose vaccinations,
“The timing couldn’t be more important as retailers gear up for the holiday season, when most discretionary retailers are making up to two-thirds of their profits for the year and there are positive signs that it will be a dynamic selling period. ” he said.
“However, the immediate challenges remain around the blockages and a lot of pain continues to be felt in parts of the country where stay-at-home orders are in place.”
Retailing was down 5% from August 2019 levels in NSW and 14.2% in ACT, according to Mastercard, both of which were largely stuck in the month. Surprisingly, Victoria was up 1.2%, while open and free Western Australia was up 16.5%.
Overall national retail sales grew 1.6% over the same period, supported by record online sales, which doubled from $ 1.9 billion before the pandemic to $ 3.7 billion in July. This shift to online sales is part of the reason why overall retail spending remains high above pre-pandemic levels.
AMP Capital’s Australian Activity Tracker has edged up over the past week, although it remains near its nadir as NSW, Victoria and ACT count the days to reopen and count vaccination rates.
When lockdowns were lifted in Victoria at the end of 2020, retail sales hit record highs as people spent savings and saved less of their take home pay.
Retailers will once again capitalize on pent-up demand to drive sales through sales such as Black Friday (November 26) and Cyber Monday (November 29) and set the tone for a new wave of post-lockdown consumption.