Sharp drop in April retail figures

Retail turnover took a sharp dive last month, according to new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Turnover  was down 17.9% in April, making it the strongest seasonally adjusted fall recorded in the ABS’s Retail Trade survey. It had fallen 9.4% when compared to April last year.

The record low follows a record high in March, when the peak of panic buying hit, sparking a buying frenzy that saw turnover rise by a 8.2%.

Interestingly, while products which rose sharply in March (such as toilet paper) fell in April, figures were still higher than April last year.

Falls were shown across every industry, however food retailing, cafes, restaurants and takeaways were particularly hard hit. Turnover in these sectors, as well as in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing were estimated at half the level of April 2019.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently forecast a dire economic toll from the global pandemic. Treasury has predicted a GDP fall of more than 10% in the June quarter, which would be the biggest fall on record and equates to the combined quartlery production of SA, TAS and the NT and ACT.

The unemployment rate is also forecast to rise to 10% next quarter, while household consumption is predicted to fall by 16% and business and dwelling investment to both drop by 18%.

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