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Retail sales show 2020 was a year for the bottle

Matthew CranstonEconomics correspondent

Australians spent a record $350 billion in retail purchases last year and the product that showed the biggest jump in spending was alcohol.

Over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers ramped-up their spending at liquor retailers by 26.5 per cent.

Just on $15.6 billion was spent on alcohol, still less than was spent on make-up and toiletries such as toilet paper, which totalled more than $19 billion.

“Overall, Australians spent more than ever before,” Commsec chief economist Craig James said. “Sales are up 6.2 per cent on a year ago and show the biggest calendar-year lift in a decade.”

While many ended up in lockdown with their beer and chardonnay, consumers spent less on clothes, down 8 per cent on the 2019 spend, and 12 per cent less on newspapers and books.

In December, retail sales dipped 4.1 per cent but that was largely because of a surge in November of 7 per cent when big discount sales such as “Black Friday” occurred.

Summary | 3 Annotations
was alcohol.
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rs spent less on clothes,
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2 per cent less on newspapers and books.
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