According to preliminary retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, retail trade in September declined by 1.5 per cent from the previous month.
However, year-on-year growth stands at 5.2 per cent while growth over the previous quarter stands at 6.8 per cent.
According to Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra, the figures can be interpreted with a sense of optimism for the all-important Christmas trading period.
“The figures show back-to-back drops in August and September. We interpret this as an adjustment or normalisation to the trend, which, if you strip out the volatility of the past few months, has been quite strong,” Mr Zahra said.
“This is a strong trend that we believe is setting us up for a cautiously optimistic Christmas shopping season.”
Mr Zahra said it was unsurprising that Victoria was the only state or territory to trade below last year’s September performance.
However, he added that the situation can only improve for Victorian retail now that Melbourne retail is days away from opening, which is just in time for Christmas trading which kicks off in earnest after Melbourne Cup.
“Australian retailers make up to two-thirds of their profits during the Christmas period, and with Victoria opening up just in time, and continued government support in the form of tapered JobKeeper and JobSeeker, we expect to see reasonably positive data points during the Christmas period compared to last year,” Mr Zahra said.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, but it may not be the typical Christmas that we’re all used to.
“We’re encouraging shoppers to get in early on your shopping lists to avoid any disappointments on Christmas day. A COVID-safe Christmas will require more planning for us all.”