Australian Household Spending Drops for Third Month on Lockdowns
(Bloomberg) -- Australian household spending declined for a third consecutive month as the delta variant of coronavirus swept the east coast and nation’s largest cities.
Retail sales dropped 1.7% in August from a month earlier, compared with economists’ median estimate of a 2.5% fall, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed Tuesday. New South Wales fell 3.5% to the state’s lowest level since April 2020, when the pandemic first hit, according to the report.
“Retail turnover continues to be negatively impacted by lockdown restrictions, with each of the eastern mainland states experiencing falls in line with their respective level of restrictions,” Ben James, an official at the ABS, said in a statement. “In direct contrast, states with no lockdowns performed well with Western Australia and South Australia enjoying strong rises.”
Sydney is now in its 14th week of lockdown and Melbourne is also under protracted restrictions, with the fallout set to see the economy contract in the current quarter. Both New South Wales and Victoria states are now racing to reach vaccination targets as they plan to open up and try to live with the virus, abandoning previous suppression policies.
Today’s report showed:
- Victoria fell 3% as the state went back into lockdown Aug. 5
- A snap lockdown Aug. 12 in the Australian Capital Territory heavily restricted non-essential retail, sending sales tumbling 19.9%
- In contrast, with no lockdown restrictions in August, retail turnover in South Australia rose 6.6% and Western Australia advanced 2.8%
- Clothing, footwear and personal accessories slumped 15.7%
- Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell 7%
- Department stores tumbled 10.2%
- Food rose 2.1%, the largest gain, as restrictions continued to limit mobility and keep households at home, the ABS said
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