Retail Sales Rise Despite Omicron Impact | The standard

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Retail sales held up better than expected in January, in the face of the highly contagious COVID-19 variant Omicron, and could now see a further boost with the reopening of international borders. Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra admits January has been a month of ups and downs for retailers, starting the year with an increase in cases of Omicron, which has impacted retail chains. local supplies and forces tens of thousands of workers into solitary confinement every day. “However, towards the end of the month, we saw daily case numbers start to decline, close contact isolation requirements were eased for essential workers and consumer spending started to rise,” Ms. Zahra. “Overall, we had a soft landing from Omicron and the sales impacts were not as severe as we originally feared,” Mr. Zahra said. According to the Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales for all payment methods, retail sales rose 2.4% in January, up 4.9% from a year earlier. . Compared to pre-pandemic levels in January 2020, sales increased by 14.4%. Homewares was the best performing retail category, up 10.4% in January from a year earlier, followed by clothing sales which rose 8.5%. Department stores were the only retail category to register a decline, down 2.7% – the eighth consecutive month of negative growth. All states and territories recorded an increase in sales in January over the previous year, with Victoria leading the way, up 8.3%. However, Mr Zahra said sales remain uneven and dependent on the type of business and its location, while cash flow issues remain a challenge for many retailers, coupled with rising supply chain costs. . “CBD retailers are focused on our path to recovery with foot traffic in our capitals still quite low with the absence of international tourists and exacerbated by people continuing to work from home,” he said. . “We look forward to the reopening of international borders, which is the first step towards revitalizing our city centers.” International tourist travel restarted on Monday with the opening of Australia’s borders after two years of closure due to the pandemic. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Andrew McKellar said now was the time tourism businesses have been waiting for. “Fortress Australia is finally coming to an end,” he said. Prior to the pandemic, the economic benefits of inbound tourism amounted to up to $45 billion in revenue each year. “While there will be a considerable delay before arrivals return to pre-pandemic levels, the long road to recovery for crippled tourism businesses begins now,” McKellar said. Australian Associated Press

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Sallie R. Loera