Retail sales in Australia jumped 4.2 per cent in October 2021 compared with the previous year, and a 10.1 per cent spike from the same time before the Covid-19 pandemic in 2019, according to official figures released on Tuesday.
The figures, released by Australian Retailers Association (ARA), were based on data which records online and in-store credit payments, reports Xinhua news agency.
Despite the overall rebound, retail sales growth has staggered in the cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra as they only exited their prolonged lockdowns in mid-to-late October.
Paul Zahra, CEO of the ARA, said this likely means the full extent of the return to retail in these cities has yet to be realized.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand in those locations with consumers back out in droves, shopping and supporting their local businesses,” said Zahra.
He said that consumer forecasts predict as much as A$5.4 billion ($4 billion) would be spent during Australia’s “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” shopping events, which normally begins at the end of November.
Across retail industries, department stores and food retailing, such as cafes and restaurants, have been hardest hit by the pandemic shutdowns.
Department stores saw a 5.6 per cent drop in growth from the same time last year, and food retailing a 1 per cent drop.
The clear winner, unsurprisingly, has been online retail which, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), has broken all-time records of growth every month since June 2021, the same time Sydney entered its most recent lockdown.
Zahra said with “the worst of Covid-19 now behind us” retailers and shoppers are expected to begin ramping up activity, especially as they head into the Christmas season.
“Consumer sentiment is upbeat and we’re set for a positive Christmas, despite the numerous Covid-19 setbacks in 2021,” she added.