Australian Household Spending Tumbles as Virus Lockdowns Hit

Australian household spending recorded its largest monthly decline this year as the early impact of coronavirus lockdowns took a toll on consumption.

Preliminary retail sales dropped 1.8% in June from a month earlier, compared with economists’ median estimate of a 0.7% decline, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said in a report released in Sydney Wednesday.

Australian Household Spending Tumbles as Virus Lockdowns Hit

“June’s fall in turnover was due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions across multiple states,” Ben James, an official at the ABS, said in a statement. “Other states and territories saw interrupted trade due to mini-lockdowns, as well as reduced mobility between states with the tightening of border restrictions.”

The Australian dollar edged down and was trading at 73.19 U.S. cents at 11:48 a.m. in Sydney

Australia has been hit hard by renewed infections from the delta strain of coronavirus that has now pushed half of the country into lockdown, including its two largest cities. The economy had been growing strongly prior to the outbreak, with unemployment in June falling to 4.9%, the lowest reading in 10 years.

Victoria led the falls in June retail sales, slumping 3.5%, with the impact of the state’s fourth lockdown more pronounced. New South Wales dropped 2% and Queensland fell 1.5%.

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