Retail spending lifts 4.9 pct in October

Friday's retail trade data showed a solid 4.9 per cent bump in spending in October.
Friday's retail trade data showed a solid 4.9 per cent bump in spending in October.

Retail spending rose 4.9 per cent in October as COVID-19 restrictions eased across the country.

The figure reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Friday followed September's 1.3 per cent rise after falls of 1.7 per cent in August 2021 and 2.7 per cent in July 2021.

It was the strongest monthly rise since Victoria's first lockdown bounce-back in November 2020, with retail turnover rising to its highest level since June.

"Retail performance continues to be tied to state lockdowns as this month's recovery was driven by the end of lockdowns in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory," the ABS's Ben James said.

NSW sales rose 13.3 per cent, returning to the levels seen in the months immediately before the Delta outbreak.

There were also strong rises in Victoria (three per cent) and the ACT (20.2 per cent) as restrictions eased.

With physical stores reopening, there were rises in the sectors of clothing, footwear and personal accessories (27.7 per cent); cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (12.3 per cent); department stores (22.4 per cent); household goods retailing (4.5 per cent); and other retailing (2.2 per cent).

Food retailing was the only industry to fall - dipping 0.5 per cent, in line with previous post-lockdown results.

In terms of other states, sales rose 0.4 per cent in Queensland, 0.2 per cent in WA and 1.6 per cent in the Northern Territory, and went backwards in South Australia (-1.2 per cent) and Tasmania (-2.4 per cent).

Capital Economics' Marcel Thieliant said the recovery had much further to run.

"The number of visitors at retail and recreation facilities has continued to rise, which points to a further pick-up in retail spending," he said.

"And with the household savings rate still very high, consumption will continue to expand at a rapid pace next year."

Looking ahead, this weekend's Black Friday-Cyber Monday discount sales are expected to generate huge interest, with one retail bank predicting almost a million dollars a minute will be spent.

Retailing groups are forecasting a $5 billion-plus spend-up at the weekend.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Australian economy was "springing back", pointing to new figures showing 350,000 jobs were created since September.

As well, 1.2 million people across NSW, Victoria and the ACT have come off COVID disaster payments, as those vaccination rates hit milestones set out under the national plan.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the bulk of those who had come off the disaster payments had gone back to work.

"It's another proof point that there's real momentum building in the Australian economic recovery," he said.

"The Australian economy is heating up leading into Christmas and we're already starting to see some of the retail numbers being positive."

Australian Associated Press