Consumer confidence fell 9.5% to 79.5 in August 2020. The fall is the largest since the original national “lockdown”, with the index at its lowest point since the heavy restrictions were introduced in April. The largest fall was in NSW which fell 15.5%. Victoria fell by 8.3% however that was on top of a 10.7% decline in July. Queensland also fell by 8.1%, meaning the entire east coast entered a period of significant pessimism. It appears consumers have been more impacted in terms of confidence than when the original restrictions came in to place as they realise the pandemic is not yet behind us and has the potential to re-emerge quickly with significant impacts. Retail sales data recently released showed a 2.7% increase in June 2020 on the back of easing of national government-imposed lockdowns across most states and territories. Readers might recall June was a month where consumer confidence showed some signs of improvement. Significant growth was experienced in discretionary categories such as cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, along with clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing. Online retail sales returned to a modest growth rate of 0.2% during June maintaining online sales at elevated levels following the initial step change recorded in April 2020 at the peak of lockdown measures.
Source: Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment Index
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics
Online retail sales