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Department stores still suffering but retail on the rise

Less people were going into department stores but more were buying clothing, footwear and household goods according to the latest consumer figures for October.

29 November 2021

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released its October retail figures, which showed retail sales had increased 5.2% compared with October 2020, with Victoria and NSW leading the charge.

Victoria’s figures were up 10.2% and NSW by 2.4%, and although sales increased significantly in the nation’s capital compared with the September figure, they were significantly down (-11.1%) year-on-year.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessories bounced back strongly in October, up 5.8% compared with the same time last year. Food retailing, household goods and cafes, restaurants and takeaways also recorded positive year-on-year growth, however, department stores were down 3.3% compared with October 2020.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said with the worst of the pandemic now behind us, retailers were gearing up for Christmas and were being spurred on by Black Friday sales.

“There’s just 28 days to go till Christmas and retailers are in full swing, ramping up their operations for the busiest time of year on the retail calendar,” Mr Zahra said.

“With Victoria and NSW now out of lockdown, we’ve seen sales bounce back strongly in those states in October and it’s pleasing to also see clothing, footwear and personal accessories back recording positive year-on-year growth.

Mr Zahra said the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were providing businesses with strong sales momentum, with $5.4 billion forecast to be spent over the four days, which is nearly a million dollars a minute.

“There are offers across the board, both in stores and online, from homewares to fashion and electronics as well. The event is renowned for having the biggest retail bargains pre-Christmas and it’s gaining in popularity every year,” he said.

“Computers, appliances, games, toys, clothing and cosmetics are among the most popular purchases as consumers snap up some bargains and shop early for Christmas.”

Mr Zahra said the removal of vaccine checks next month in NSW as well as the density limit, would help retailers maximise their trading potential.

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