Retail turnover rose 1.1% in April 2021, seasonally adjusted, according to preliminary ABS retail trade figures, with $31 billion spent in stores and online. Turnover surged 25.1% with the sharp rise attributed to the low levels of retail turnover in April 2020.

Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys director, Ben James said all industries except department stores rose, with similar rises for cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, household goods retailing and other retailing. 

“New South Wales and Victoria led the state rises, with sales continuing to return in Sydney and Melbourne. A lockdown in Western Australia in April saw a 1.5% fall in that state,” he said.

National Retail Association CEO, Dominique Lamb said it was promising news for an industry that had been very reliant on JobKeeper.

“The end of JobKeeper did have many retailers concerned, but the early signs are that the Australian economy continues to charter a strong recovery,” Lamb said. It’s only one month and there remains a degree of uncertainty, but these April results indicate that consumers continued to spend. Autumn is traditionally a quiet period for retail, so the fact that sales have continued to tick along bodes well for the sector.”

The April preliminary figures followed the ABS Labour Force report that revealed unemployment dropped slightly for the month.

“The Australian economy has strong momentum at present following the Covid-recession. To further fuel the recovery we urge shoppers to keep supporting local retailers, governments to closely monitor economic indicators and encourage those eligible to get vaccinated,” Lamb said.

Australian Retailers Association CEO, Paul Zahra said whilst comparisons against the 2020 lockdown period are complex, retail trade remains healthy overall, and Australia’s economy continues to bounce back from the worst of the pandemic. However, he said the figure is inflated due to the lockdowns and restrictions experienced in April 2020, when the economy largely grinded to a halt.

“Whilst the ABS results are pleasing, it doesn’t paint a complete picture of what the retail sector is going through. Our recovery is uneven, and some businesses are in a better position than others,” he said.

Quoting figures from ARA’s strategic partner Mastercard, Zahra said year-on-year growth for department stores was up 42.2% and household goods increased 6.9%.

“Retail sales are tracking well overall, but we know that not everyone is benefiting from the same levels of buoyant spending. Our economic recovery will remain uneven as long as international borders remain closed,” Zahra said.

eStore Logistics sees online orders grow 80% in April

There was 80% growth in online shopping orders in April when compared to April 2019, according to new data from ecommerce fulfilment provider, eStore Logistics.

Online shopping remains popular despite Covid-19 restrictions easing and physical stores, shopping centres, and high streets being open for business. In fact, there has been a 51% growth in online orders in the last 12 months, in comparison to the 12 months prior. 

However, ecommerce orders have slowed since the same time last year when most physical stores were shut and shoppers were buying online. In comparison to April last year, during peak lockdown, there has been a steady 9% decrease in online sales.

Home and renovation is still booming year-on-year with 20% growth in online orders from this April to last. The category has seen incredible growth over the past year, with at least 100% YoY growth every month.

eStore Logistics managing director, Leigh Williams said, “April last year was an interesting time in the ecommerce world. We’ve never seen anything like it. It’s hard to imagine now most stores were closed, supermarket shelves were stripped bare in a state of panic buying and businesses were not able to operate without an online presence. This has had a profound impact on the industry and we can see that one year down the road.

“When looking at YoY data and comparing this April to last it’s hard to get a good picture of how far the industry has come – last April was an insane fluke month. Data from eStore helps us look at the bigger picture and understand just how much the trend has accelerated over the past 12 months.”