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Retail Sales have a bounce in their step, but for how long?

Chief Economist Harley Dale
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Harley Dale, CreditorWatch Chief Economist, comments on today’s ABS Retail Trade stats which saw retail sales jump 7.3 per cent in November 2021, reflecting a record value of sales in Australian history:

“Today’s results have produced a spectacular outcome, providing a strong base for the challenges many SMEs are facing in early 2022. 

“However,  November data is a lagging indicator of current economic activity. The update doesn’t inform us of how businesses, households and individuals are faring in early 2022, following the massive disruption faced by many over the Christmas period in the face of Omicron. 

“Quite rightly, the ABS media release references the impact of the Delta COVID variant. Back in November, industries and consumers had a green light to forge ahead as the nation appeared to have emerged from the second COVID variant.  Then Omicron came along, bringing with it a fresh wave of uncertainty,  business stress and closures.

“The mini post lockdown boom of late 2021 will have set up many SMEs very well in terms of weathering a new storm. Other businesses haven’t had that fortune and won’t. Industries such as Wholesale Trade; Accommodation and Food Services; Transport, Postal and Warehousing; and Arts and Recreation Services face a difficult short-term future.”

Patrick Coghlan, CreditorWatch CEO, adds:

“If Australia can get through this early 2022 debilitating hump, then the prospects for growing economic activity are stronger than they were at the start of 2021. 

“In the interim, we need to know how businesses across the board fared in December last year as the Omicron cloud loomed over holiday gatherings and festive spendings, leading into a difficult new year period. The CreditorWatch Business Risk Index (BRI) will reveal crucial industry updates when released next week.

“The catchcry really is ‘weather the storm’, because 2022 should still ultimately be a stronger year for economic opportunity than in 2021. That is if the nation remains committed to a COVID-normal living, vacant of heavy lockdown restrictions.”

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