SA retail sags as Black Friday and bushfires hit December sales across Australia

Bushfires and Australia’s embrace of the November Black Friday sales has taken a worse-than-expected toll on December retail trade, with cafes and restaurants particularly affected in a 0.5 per cent monthly spending drop.

Feb 06, 2020, updated Feb 06, 2020
Rundle Mall in the week before Christmas last year. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Rundle Mall in the week before Christmas last year. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Seasonally adjusted retail spending fell by $140 million during the month to $27.77 billion, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released today, the momentum reversing sharply from a sales-driven 0.9 per cent rise in November.

South Australia recorded the worst performance, with retail sales dropping by 1.3 per cent in December.

Next worse was NSW, where businesses were particularly hit by the bushfire catastrophe, with retail sales dropping by 1.2 per cent.

“The December fall comes after a strong November, led by Black Friday sales” said Ben James of the ABS.

“There were also some effects from bushfires and associated smoke haze apparent in NSW data… specifically, food retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services were negatively impacted.”

However, quarterly retail volumes exceeded economists predictions, rising by a seasonally adjusted 0.5 per cent in the three months from October.

Source: ABS

The market had tipped a 0.3 per cent improvement after a fall of 0.1 per cent in the September quarter 2019.

The quarterly rise in volumes was led by household goods retailing, up 1.4 per cent, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, up 1.5 per cent, and department stores, up 2.1 per cent.

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The rises were slightly offset by seasonally adjusted volume falls in food retailing, down 0.4 per cent.

South Australian Treasurer Rob Lucas has hailed Black Friday as a great success in South Australia, after he granted a trading hours exemption to allow shops to open until midnight on November 29.

With major shopping centres, including Rundle Mall, reporting strong trade, Lucas had said that the sales event would drive positive economic and jobs growth.

The Australian dollar edged up to 67.57 US cents from 67.52 US cents immediately after the release of today’s data, and was worth 67.56 US cents at 1140 AEDT.

– with AAP

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