The growing impact of COVID-19 and the related social distancing requirements imposed by government has led to the greatest monthly decline in consumer confidence on record, which collapsed by 17.7% to 75.6 in April 2020. This level is against a backdrop of billions of dollars of government “stimulus” and is now lower than the peak of the GFC and the recession in the early 1980s. The 1990s recession where the index fell to 64.6 is the only time where the measure has been recorded lower than the current level. Prior to the introduction of COVID-19 related social distancing measures and restrictions, traditional and online retail sales grew 0.5% and 1.6% respectively in February 2020 however those figures were off the back of contractions in January. Early data relating to March 2020 suggests there has been a material impact on consumer spending in many categories, and there is likely to be a general shift towards online sales.
Source: Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Online retail sales