Retail sales fall 0.3% in January

Retail turnover was hurt by the bushfires in January, falling 0.3% in seasonally adjusted terms, according to the latest statistics from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This follows a decline of 0.7% in December.

Department stores experienced the biggest fall in turnover at 2.2%, followed by household goods retailing and clothing and footwear retailing (1.1%), cafes and restaurants (0.3%) and other retailing (0.1%). Meanwhile, food retailing rose by 0.4%.

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said although the January figures were expected, it was not a good start for 2020.

“These figures reveal just how disrupting the catastrophic bushfires were to the retail industry. This natural disaster the sector has confronted with, particularly for regional areas, has really put the sector on a course for recovery,” she said.

Despite most of Australia’s bushfires being put out, the full impact of the coronavirus outbreak over the past month will likely be felt in February results, Lamb said.

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