The Impact of Coronavirus on Retailing in Australia

June 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced Australia’s government to enforce lockdown restrictions, which negatively impacted business and consumer confidence and supply chains. While the grocery sector and e-commerce experienced rapid increased in demand for products as panic buying escalated across the country, others have suffered a sharp decline. As the pandemic continues to unfold, retailers need to be prepared for long-lasting changes in consumer behaviour and shopping habits.

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This report comes in PPT.

Key takeaways

Retail is a cut-throat industry and especially during and after this pandemic, retailers must constantly redevelop and reinvent their brand, e-commerce and in-store strategies if they are to have any chance of competing in a dynamic and hypercompetitive retail environment.

Uncertainty dampens both business and consumer confidence. This lowering of confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, with Australians and business deferring spending and investment.

Environmental concerns have taken a temporary backseat as health and hygiene are the main concerns during the pandemic. However, this does not mean an end to sustainability and there is likely to be a stronger and renewed interest among Australians in protecting the environment by shopping in a more sustainable manner.

The COVID-19 pandemic will bring about lasting changes in consumer attitudes and behaviour. Australians that previously preferred to pay in cash and reluctant to engage in e-commerce are increasingly likely to embrace these new payment trends.

E-commerce is flourishing in Australia but there are still questions to be answered and hurdles to be overcome if consumers will alter their shopping habits in the longer term.


COVID-19 strikes economies differently than the 2008 financial crisis
Global economy will contract sharply in 2020
COVID-19 in Australia
Three scenarios examine the impact of a more severe outbreak
In our baseline view, the pandemic peaks in June 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic impacts both supply and demand in Australia
Euromonitor’s COVID-19 scenarios in Australia over 2019-2025 (1)
Euromonitor’s COVID-19 scenarios in Australia over 2019-2025 (2)
Digital engagement with customers becomes main strategy
Increased proximity payments
Logistics disruption
Commercial rent battles
Catalyst for the decline of physical stores?
Is environmental sustainability no longer a long-term concern?
Behavioural changes in the grocery sector
Importance of fulfilment and last-mile delivery
Revitalising e-commerce strategies
Support local
Key takeaways
About Euromonitor International’s Macro Model


Retail is the sale of new and used goods to consumers from a business for personal or household consumption from retail outlets, kiosks, market stalls, vending, direct selling and e-commerce. Retail is the aggregation of Retail Offline and Retail E-Commerce. Excludes specialist retailers of motor vehicles, motorcycles, vehicle parts. Also excludes fuel sales, foodservice sales, rental transactions, and wholesale sales (e.g. Cash and Carry). Sales value excluding or including VAT/Sales Tax. Retail also excludes the informal retail sector. Informal retailing is retail trade which is not declared to the tax authorities. Informal retailing encompasses (a) sales generated by unregistered and unlicensed retailers, i.e. retailers operating illegally, and (b) any proportion of sales generated by a registered and licensed retailer that is not declared to the tax authorities. Unregistered and unlicensed retailers operate predominantly (although not exclusively) as street hawkers or operate open market stalls, as these channels are harder for the authorities to monitor than permanent outlets. Activities in the illegal market, which is usually understood to refer to trade in illegal, counterfeit or stolen merchandise, are included within our definition of informal retailing. Activities in the “grey market”, which is usually understood to refer to trade in legal merchandise that is sold through unauthorized channels – for example cigarettes bought legally in another country, legally imported, but sold at lower prices than in authorized channels – will be included as informal retailing if no tax is paid on sale by the retailer. However if the retailer pays tax – for example on cigarettes bought legally in another country but sold at a lower price than standard – the sale is included within formal retail.

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