December figures show Victorian retail in crisis

The December retail trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that the Victorian retail sector is in a deep crisis.

According to the figures, compared to the previous month, in December retail trade shrunk in Victoria in seasonally adjusted terms by 6.8 per cent, the largest fall in Australia. Victoria’s fall compared poorly with an overall fall in retail trade in December in Australia of 4.1 per cent.

Some of the Victorian retail sectors that suffered the sharpest falls were:

  • 8.6 per cent fall for clothing
  • 8.0 per cent fall for hardware, building and garden supplies
  • 8.5 per cent fall for newsagents and booksellers
  • 16.4 per cent fall for footwear and other personal accessories
  • 24.5 per cent fall for recreational goods

This collapse in retail trade came at the end of a year when many retail businesses were unable to open due to COVID-19 restrictions being enforced and then re-introduced due to Labor’s second wave.

Comments attributable to Shadow Treasurer, Louise Staley:

“These latest retail trade numbers clearly show the crisis that the sector faces here in Victoria.

“It shows again the Victorian economy lagging behind while the rest of the country starts to recover.

“The overall retail trade figures for Victoria are worrying, but what is more concerning is the sectors that are particularly struggling. Many of the retail businesses in the clothing, hardware, newsagents, footwear and sporting goods sectors are small businesses.

“The Andrews Labor Government has not provided sufficient support for small business through this pandemic, with only 1 in 5 small businesses having received any support from Labor. We are seeing the results: jobs being lost in small business at three times the rate of large businesses, and the retail sector suffering greatly.

“Only when small businesses thrive can Victoria start to recover.”

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