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Food sales drive SA retail spending recovery

Business

An increase in spending on food in South Australia across supermarkets, restaurants and takeaway outlets helped retail spending in the state bounce back slightly in April after dipping to its lowest level in 12 months in March, according to latest figures.

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Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning shows the state’s seasonally adjusted retail spend was $1.954 billion in April, up 16.5 million from March 2021.

The 0.9 per cent increase month on month is also 16.5 per cent higher than the $1.676 spent by South Australians in April 2020, when coronavirus restrictions forced many retailers and hospitality businesses to close.

The April 2021 gain was driven by turnover increases across a range of sectors compared to March including supermarkets (up $14.9 million), electrical goods ($7.3 million), clothing ($5.4 million), takeaway food ($3.6 million) and cafes and restaurants ($1.3 million).

However, these gains were tempered by downturns in hardware stores and garden supplies (down $11 million), department stores ($6.5 million) and pharmaceutical and cosmetics ($2.1 million).

Nationally, retail spending rose 1.1 per cent in April on the previous month to $31. 028 billion, which was a 25 per cent increase on April 2020.

Western Australia was the only state to record a dip in retail spending (down 1.5 per cent) while NSW spending grew by 2.1 per cent.

Across Australia, department stores were the biggest losers with spending down 6.7 per cent, or $121.8 million in April.

Meanwhile, ABS figures also released today on international trade show Australia’s seasonally adjusted balance on goods and services surplus increased $2.234 billion to $8,028m in April compared to March.

This was fairly evenly distributed between a $1.17 billion increase in exports to almost $40 billion and a 3 per cent fall in imports to just under $32 billion for the month.

Yesterday’s national accounts showed the economy grew by 1.8 per cent in the March quarter, lifting the annual rate to 1.1 per cent.

“The Australian economy today is bigger than it was going into the pandemic,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra this morning.

“But we know that the pandemic is still with us, and as long as the pandemic is still with us, the Morrison government’s support continues.”

Addressing a Senate hearing last night, Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle said recent three-day lockdowns around the country had little lasting impact on household spending and the overall economy.

But he said it was still unclear what the impact of Victoria’s current lockdown, which has been extended for another week, would be.

“We will just have to wait and see. It is longer than three days clearly, but given it’s been one weekend, it’s too early to tell,” he said.

 – with AAP

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