Are Lockdowns Impeding Retail Growth?

Power Retail By Power Retail | 21 Jul 2021

Lockdowns are ‘taking a toll’ on the Australian public, as retail turnover dips 1.8 percent in June. The preliminary results from the ABS have indicated that the COVID restrictions have played a fundamental role in these figures.

Victoria led the falls, with a dip of -3.5 percent, followed by NSW, which fell by -2.0 percent. Victoria’s fourth lockdown, in June, had a greater impact on the public than the measures in May, which saw retail figures drop slightly by -0.9 percent.

“June’s fall in turnover was due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions across multiple states,” explained Ben James, the Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys. “Victoria saw restrictions from the start of the month, which were gradually eased from the 11th of June. New South Wales, in particular Greater Sydney, saw stay-at-home orders issued towards the end of the month. Other states and territories saw interrupted trade due to mini-lockdowns, as well as reduced mobility between states with the tightening of border restrictions.”

These figures are ‘no surprise’ to Paul Zahra, the CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, indicating the direct correlation between lockdown and its impact on consumer confidence. Further, he has highlighted that he and the industry fear the ‘worst is yet to come’ with these restrictions.

“Today’s figures for June come as no surprise with Victoria battling its fourth lockdown earlier in the month and Greater Sydney subject to stay-at-home orders a couple of weeks later,” said Zahra. “Lockdowns have a direct impact on consumer confidence and retail spending, and we fear the worst is yet to come with restrictions imposed across multiple states in July. Two weeks ago, National Cabinet agreed that lockdowns would be used as a last resort to managing new Covid outbreaks, but they appear to be with us for the rest of the year given concerns with the Delta variant,” he said.

“Small businesses, in particular, are in crisis and bearing the full brunt of lockdowns. Whilst existing support arrangements are welcomed, it’s not enough to stem the losses. We need to see an urgent return of effective support schemes like JobKeeper and the Leasing Code of Conduct that were so beneficial in keeping businesses alive during the first phase of the pandemic.”

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