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A combination of cyber sales and uninterrupted retail trading in Melbourne boosted fashion retail in November, new data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows.

By segment, department stores experienced a 21.1% rise in November, while other recreational goods retailing (which includes toys and games) jumped up 18.9%. 

In November, overall Australian retail turnover rose 7.1% following a rise of 1.4% in October.

Compared to November 2019, total retail turnover rose 13.3% in November 2020.

ABS director of quarterly economy wide surveys Ben James said that Victoria boosted the national result.

"The rise is led by Victoria (22.4%) as Melbourne retail stores were able to trade for a full month in November.

"Excluding Victoria, turnover rose 2.6 per cent," he said.

Online sales made up 11% of total retail turnover in November, compared to 7.2% in November 2019.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said that November was a stellar month for Aussie retailers.

"November was an incredible month, with $31.7 billion worth of retail trade across the country – and that’s provided a much-needed shot in the arm for Australian retailers after what was a very challenging year.

"The November result was spurred on by the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, which have well and truly been embraced by Australian shoppers.

"With many discretionary retailers making up to two-thirds of their yearly profits during this period, this result will help replenish cash reserves allowing many retailers to enter 2021 on a more stable footing.

"It’s pleasing to see year on year increases across the major categories with household goods (up $1.3 billion or 28%), clothing, footwear and personal accessories (up more than $400 million or 18%) and department stores (up $254 million or 16%).

"We have seen very healthy pre and post-Christmas trading from retailers around the country, and look forward to seeing this strong momentum continue into next month’s ABS figures," he said.

Zahra added that while online trading has helped buffer some of the effects from the pandemic, the organisation remains cautiously optimistic for this year's trade.

"Online has continued to be a powerhouse of activity, providing some offset against restrictions and COVID safety concerns.

"Australia Post reported December as its biggest month in history, with more than 52 million parcels delivered – an almost 20% increase on the previous year.

"Total online sales in Australia have hit 11% compared to 7.2% the same time last year.

"We’re cautiously optimistic for retail in 2021, however there are concerns with JobKeeper and JobSeeker ending at the end of March.

"These two schemes have been key to stimulating the economy, and we know there are pockets of retail still struggling – in particular those who’ve been in areas affected by lockdowns in recent months," he said.

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