Retail spending sunk by lockdowns in June
Retail spending shrunk by 1.8 per cent in June as a result of a series of lockdowns across the country.
Australian Bureau of Statistic preliminary figures for the month showed all industries except for food retailing in decline.
"June's fall in turnover was due to the impact of coronavirus restrictions across multiple states," ABS director Ben James said.
He said Victorian restrictions from the start of June were gradually eased from June 11, while Greater Sydney saw stay-at-home orders issued towards the end of the month.
"Other states and territories saw interrupted trade due to mini-lockdowns, as well as reduced mobility between states with the tightening of border restrictions." Mr James said.
Despite this monthly decline, sales for the June quarter are expected to rise 1.3 per cent after the 0.1 per cent decline in the previous three months, a positive outcome for the national economic growth result.
However, a growing number of economists are predicting that with half the population in lockdown, including Victoria again, the economy will contract in the September quarter.
But at this stage they doubt this will be followed by a second negative quarter in the final three months of year, which would signal the economy has sunk back into a recession.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, eased further in June, but still points to annual growth above trend about 2.8 per cent.
Westpac chief economist Bill Evans is forecasting the economy will contract by 0.7 per cent in the September quarter.
"We expect the economy to bounce back once measures bring outbreaks under control, with the December quarter expected to show a 2.5 per cent rebound nationally," he said.
Greater Sydney and some NSW regional areas are in lockdown until July 30, and Victoria is in an extended shutdown until next Tuesday, as is South Australia.
Greater Sydney and Melbourne alone account for about half of the economy's output.
As such, independent economist Nicki Hutley says another recession can't be ruled out.
"This Delta virus just seems almost unstoppable. You have seen how difficult it has been for NSW to get on top of it," she told ABC radio.
"If we can't do that very quickly, this could drag on. That is the worst-case scenario."
Those latter restrictions include the closure of construction sites, the first time such a measure has been included.
"If the pause goes beyond July 30, it could bring smaller contractors to their knees due to cashflow issues," Australian Constructors Association chief executive Jon Davies warned.
The National Skills Commission's final vacancies report for June confirmed job advertisements posted on the internet fell 0.5 per cent in the month, the first decline since the pandemic low point in April 2020.
However, jobs ads were still 43.8 per cent higher than their pre-pandemic levels.
Declines were recorded in five of the eight occupational groups monitored by the commission, and in three states and the Northern Territory.
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