Retail sales fall as 'for lease' signs become more common in Sydney, Melbourne

Retail sales fall as 'for lease' signs become more common in Sydney, Melbourne

Retail sales across the country dipped by 5.6 per cent in July month-on-month as lockdowns continued to impact the sector, according to new data released by MasterCard.

The MasterCard SpendingPulse report, which measures in-store and online sales across all forms of payment, also demonstrated retail sales were down 6.3 per cent in July compared to the same time last year.

However, when compared to July 2019, sales were actually up 6 per cent.

There were month-on-month falls in the retail categories of clothing (down 19.9 per cent), department stores (down 5.4 per cent) and food retailing (down 1.2 per cent). Household goods increased 0.8 per cent in July compared to the previous month (seasonally adjusted), however there were year-on-year falls across all retail categories.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says lockdowns have a direct impact on retail sales and the pandemic pain will continue to be felt over the coming months.

“Delta is continuing to cause damage to businesses and livelihoods, in particular for our economic capital Sydney, where a nine-week lockdown is confirmed with no guarantee that restrictions will ease at the end of the month,” Zahra says.

“‘For lease’ signs are becoming a more common feature on CBD shop fronts in Sydney and Melbourne where the Delta devastation has been more severe and state and federal supports haven’t been enough to save businesses from closing their doors permanently.

“Lockdowns have a direct impact on retail sales as well as business and consumer confidence, and those impacts can be felt long after restrictions are eased, as it takes time for confidence and foot-traffic to build up again – it’s not an immediate snap back to the way things were.”

Updated at 12.25pm AEST on 23 August 2021.

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