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Encouraging signs of CBD recovery across Australia

Movement data of Australia’s capital cities is showing positive signs of being on the road to recovery, with cities almost back to pre-pandemic levels.

Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are slowly increasing and are now approaching 50 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while Adelaide and Perth are at over 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

ABF media

The average seven-day movement level in the Melbourne CBD was at 47 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of November, its highest level for more than seven months. Movement in the Melbourne CBD is approaching the highest level it’s been all pandemic, which was 52 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in early April 2021.

Further north the average seven-day movement level in the Sydney CBD was at 43 per cent of pre-pandemic levels by the end of November with the recovery slowing down over the last few weeks. Even so, the average movement levels in Australia’s largest city are now at their highest for over six months since mid-May 2021.

The highest recovery rate is Adelaide’s CBD which had an average seven-day movement level of 87 per cent of pre-pandemic levels at the end of November. This was closely followed by the Perth CBD at 81 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, followed by Brisbane CBD at 75 per cent and Hobart at 71 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. The data did not show the recovery details for Darwin or Canberra.

ABF media

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan, says people continued to return to Australia’s Capital Cities during November and that strong retail sales are expected to continue.

“The average movement levels in Australia’s two largest cities are increasing slowly although still remain at less than half of their pre-pandemic levels. The average movement level in the Melbourne CBD was at 47 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in the last week of November, just ahead of the Sydney CBD,” Levine said.

“Both cities still have a long way to go to recover from the long lockdowns that ended in October, but the signs are positive that the ‘return to the office’ will strengthen in the new year when Australians return from a long-sought ‘COVID-normal’ holiday season.

“The high vaccination rates in NSW and Victoria, which are both over 90 per cent fully vaccinated, are slowly being caught by other States with 88 per cent of Tasmanians, 83 per cent of South Australians and almost 80 per cent of people in Queensland and Western Australia now fully vaccinated.

“The high, and increasing, rates of vaccination around Australia are set to lead to the relaxation of border restrictions that persist in Queensland and Tasmania over the next few weeks and eventually in Western Australia as well.

“In the meantime, Australians are returning to the shops at a stunning rate. The latest ABS Retail Sales figures for October show Australians spent over $31.1bn on retail goods during the month, an increase of 4.9 per cent on September 2021, and up by 5.2 per cent compared to October 2020.

“These strong retail sales are expected to continue in the run-up to Christmas with the annual pre-Christmas retail sales forecasts by Roy Morgan in conjunction with the Australian Retailers Association showing Australians are set to spend $58.8bn on retail goods during the pre-Christmas period.”

By Andy Young

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