Retail businesses are faced with a challenging period ahead as COVID uncertainty impedes sales.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) preliminary retail report released today reveals a fall of sales by 1.8 per cent in June, which follows a rise of 0.4 per cent in May.

National Retail Association (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb said the results validate the challenges the retail industry is currently dealing with.

“The impact of COVID-19 restrictions is clear in the preliminary report. Lockdowns are always going to affect retail sales, and even the businesses who are still able to trade are limited with reduced foot traffic and takeaway options only,” Lamb said.

“Victoria and New South Wales have seen the greatest drop, as both states had stay-at-home orders throughout the month, and Queensland was affected by their snap lockdown and travel restrictions,” she said.

However, despite the restrictions, through-the-year sales remain positive with an increase of 2.9 per cent compared to June 2020.

“Retailers have been able to adapt to COVID to an extent, with online stores and distribution channels being one avenue that have helped them survive,” Lamb said.

“However, one of the biggest challenges with COVID is the continued uncertainty and many retailers aren’t in a position to experiment with risk.

“Our governments need to closely monitor these losses and the effects it has on the community. Further assistance packages are needed.”

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