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Australia’s Retail Sales Dive Sharply in April as Country Shuts Down

Posted Wednesday, May 20, 2020 by
Arslan Butt • 1 min read

Retail sales in Australia fell sharply during the month of April after registering an unexpected increase during the previous month, as the coronavirus pandemic led shutdown forced consumers to stay indoors. According to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), retail sales declined by a seasonally adjusted 17.9% in April after climbing 8.5% higher during March.

This was the steepest fall ever recorded in retail sales in Australia, driven lower by a slump in sales across clothing, cafes and restaurants in the country on account of the lockdown. Meanwhile, NAB’s cashless retail sales index – a key measure of consumer spending on credit cards, debit cards and other forms of cashless spending on the bank’s platforms, also fell by 5.3% in April.

According to chief economist at NAB Group, Alan Oster, “The hole blown in discretionary retail is unlikely to be filled any time soon.
With our latest economic forecasts pointing to unemployment at 11.7% by mid-year and remaining above pre-crisis levels over the next 18 months, consumers are unlikely to have a great deal of discretionary spending power.”

Australia is set to experience its first ever recession in three decades owing to the coronavirus crisis. While the government and the RBA have unveiled several stimulus measures, economists have indicated that the economy may need more assistance to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

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