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Australians Come Out of Lockdown And Spend Like Never Before

imageForex9 hours ago (Jun 18, 2020 10:54PM ET)

(C) Reuters. Australians Come Out of Lockdown And Spend Like Never Before

(Bloomberg) — Australians took to the shops in May as the initial easing of the Covid-19 lockdown, combined with stimulus cash flowing into bank accounts, fueled record monthly sales.

Preliminary retail figures showed turnover rose 16.3% from April, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said Friday in Sydney. Following a record 17.7% slump in April, May’s increase was the largest in 38 years of published surveys, with gains in every industry, the bureau said.

“There were large rises for clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, as restrictions on trade were lifted during May,” the bureau said.

Australian household bank balances surged during the lockdown from the transfer of government payments and a pullback in spending in April. The surge in spending in May corresponds with the rapid recovery of consumer confidence as the infection curve flattened, which allowed a staged reopening of the economy earlier than expected.

What Bloomberg’s Economist Say

“As lockdowns have eased, retail spending has rebounded strongly. Sales have more than exceeded prior trends, but this signals a shift — rather than a recovery — in household spending. In addition to stimulus support and pent up demand from the lockdown, elevated retail spending reflects a diversion from non-retail activities that remain shut down, and the retention of spending inside Australia that Australians would ordinarily make during offshore travels.”

James McIntyre, economist

Lockdowns and restrictions continue to skew food and beverage sales toward home consumption.

“Food retailing rose as households continued to consume additional food and beverages at home during May,” the statistics bureau said. “Levels in liquor retailing remain high, as restrictions on hospitality, such as bars, clubs and events, remained in place for May.”

Final retail sales data for May are due out July 3.

(C)2020 Bloomberg L.P.

Australians Come Out of Lockdown And Spend Like Never Before

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