The latest retail trade figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Australian retail turnover fell 0.3% in January 2020, following a 0.7% fall in December 2020.
Cafes, restaurants and takeaways were among the sectors that saw declines, with revenue down 0.3%. The industry wasn’t the worst, however – there were also declines for household goods retail (-1.1%), department stores (-2.2%), retail of clothing, footwear and personal accessories (-1.1%) and other retail (-0.1%). These declines were partially offset by an increase in food retailing, including supermarkets and grocery stores (0.4%).
Although the overall figures have decreased, the trend estimate has increased by 0.5% for take-out services. The trend estimate for cafes, restaurants and food services fell 0.2%. Adjusted for seasonal variations, the trend estimate for cafes, restaurants and catering services fell by 1.2% and increased for take-out services by 1.2%.
The seasonally adjusted estimate fell for cafes, restaurants and food services (-1.2%) and increased for take-out food services (1.2%).
“The bushfires in January negatively impacted a range of retail businesses across a variety of industries,” said Ben James, director of quarterly surveys for the wider economy. “Retailers reported a range of impacts that reduced customer numbers, including disruptions to trading hours and tourism.”
While the effect of the bushfires was apparent in the January figures, the impact of COVID-19 has yet to be reflected as the outbreak has only been declared an international health emergency by the World Organization. of health only on January 30. According to the ABS, some retail companies reported reduced numbers, but that had no impact on the aggregate data included in the January release. The new virus is expected to impact retail trade estimates in the coming months.
Some hotel businesses are among those reporting the virus has affected their business, with Sydney’s Phoenix Chinese restaurant going into voluntary administration in early March after sales plummeted.
Picture: Petr Sevcovic