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Lockdowns took heavy toll on retailers

Coronavirus lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and the ACT are expected to have landed heavy blows on retailers, with this impact a key factor in a widely anticipated contraction in the September quarter.

Economists’ forecasts point to a five per cent slump in retail spending for the September quarter when the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its figures on Friday, wiping out the modest 0.8 per cent gain in the previous quarter.

Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy told senators this week his department expects the economy contracted by around three per cent in the September quarter.

This would be the second-largest drop in output in the history of the national accounts, the record being the seven per cent slump in the June quarter of last year.

Some market economists expect the September quarter contraction could be as large as four per cent.

For the month of September, economists are expecting a modest 0.3 per cent rise in retail spending.

In August, retail trade fell 1.7 per cent, the third consecutive monthly decline.

A small rise in spending in September would have coincided with some easing of restrictions in regional NSW and Victoria.

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