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Australia

South Aus retail not immune to COVID

Staff reporter

Published August 24, 2021

Spending in inner Adelaide has declined from pre-pandemic levels, according to ANZ data, despite the fact South Australia has avoided the extended lockdowns seen in Australia’s largest states.

And it’s a trend which may continue, according to ANZ Senior Economist Adelaide Timbrell.

Spending in the first two weeks of July fell 7 per cent compared to 2019 level in inner Adelaide, the data show. Outer suburbs and regional SA spending rose 9.2 per cent in the same period. You can see more in the visualisation below.

Timbrell told ANZ Institutional the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the popularity of remote working, leading to a drop in office occupancy across all capital cities.

“Even in Adelaide, where fewer snap lockdowns have occurred [compared to larger Australian states], the popularity of work-from-home for many residents has kept office occupancy at 80 per cent of pre-COVID average, according to PCA office occupancy survey,” she said.

When fewer people travel to the city, household spending moves to the suburbs, Timbrell said.

“We expect this trend to continue, as survey data from the ABS show working from home is one of the most-popular elements of the pandemic that households want to continue past COVID restrictions,” she said.

Timbrell said the decline in visitors to Adelaide since the pandemic began has also impacted the inner-city spending decline.  

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“While Sydney and Melbourne have borne the brunt of closed international borders and declines in business travel, this also reduces the foot traffic and spending in smaller capital cities,” she said.

South Australia entered a seven-day lockdown on July 21, in response to an outbreak of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the state.

Lockdowns across key Australian states and territories – including ongoing extensions in both Victoria and New South Wales - have caused havoc in the retail sectors throughout 2021.

ANZ data show spending in Melbourne was slowly returning before the latest round of lockdowns put an end to that recovery. The first weeks of Sydney’s current lockdown saw a similar slump.

Jane Yuile, ANZ Institutional Senior Advisor & State Chair, South Australia, said the bank has worked closely with ANZ customers in the retail space through the COVID-19 crisis.

“At ANZ, our data offer us market-leading insight into the impact the pandemic has had on spending right across the economy,” she said. 

“We use this analysis to help our customers, in South Australia and elsewhere, make critical decisions for their future – and data will continue to play a key role in those conversations in a post-COVID world.” 

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South Aus retail not immune to COVID
ANZ Insights
Staff reporter
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