According to newly released figures, retail sales jumped 7.3 per cent in November, which was the fourth-strongest monthly rise on record.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data reveals shoppers brought forward Christmas spending and took advantage of sales, as spending rose to $33.4 billion.
People also went shopping ahead of the festive season to minimise delivery and stock availability concerns.
There were record sales for clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (38.2 per cent), household goods retailing (11.6 per cent), department stores (26.0 per cent) as well as other retailing (7.3 per cent).
Spending at cafes, restaurants, and takeaway retailers rose 9.3 per cent, as people ventured outside of their homes, while sales in the food retailing industry fell 2.5 per cent.
All of the figures are seasonally adjusted.
Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics Ben James said the 7.3 per cent increase is the fourth-strongest monthly rise in the series, with retail sales now at their highest level ever recorded, up 5.8 per cent on the previous record set in November 2020.
“This follows the state’s lockdown ending in late October.”
The ABS said turnover in the Northern Territory fell 2.7 per cent as “lockdown restrictions introduced throughout the month negatively impacted sales”.
Online sales remain elevated, representing 12.5 per cent of total retailing in November.
“Whilst retailers had an upbeat trading period in the lead up to Christmas, post-Christmas sales are unlikely to be as strong as we anticipated given the rising number of cases and flow-on effects to businesses and consumer confidence,” ARA CEO Paul Zahra said.
The ARA said in response to rising cases, some businesses have had to limit their trading hours due to the number of staff in isolation, while others have had to close stores altogether in some locations.