THE last thing sports equipment retailer Scott Cosgrove expected from the Coronavirus recession was a sales boom, but that’s exactly what’s happened since the pandemic began.
Sport First on Chinchilla’s Heeney St has enjoyed record sales throughout the lockdown period, despite fears Australia’s tumbling economy would cause retail spending to plummet.
Owner Scott Cosgrove said he’d feared the cancellation of many of the region’s sporting competitions would have particularly bad implications in his field of retail.
Instead sales have been at their highest in his seven years of operation.
“I can’t understand why, but it’s unbelievable,” Mr Cosgrove said.
“The past three months have been the busiest three months we’ve ever had.
“In April when the sports stopped, we were really worried. We’d pre-bought a lot of our gear and then we didn’t sell – your footy boots and mouth guards and headgear.”
Mr Cosgrove said he took advantage of government fiscal stimuli, including interest-free rent offerings and JobKeeper payments for his casual staffer.
But since then revenue has increased rather than disappeared as expected.
“I’m a bit concerned about when everyone’s got to start paying back the government debt, and what’s going to happen in the next 12 months or so,” he said.
A spike in retail spending across the country has been attributed to early superannuation payouts being made available in April in order to stimulate that national economy.
Data released by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority showed that in one July week alone, close to 600,000 Australians withdraw a total of $6.2 billion from their retirement funds.
Analysis by economic advisory firm Alpha Beta showed at that time, consumer spending was up 17 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“The superannuation (early access scheme) was the real sleeper here. I don’t think anyone had any idea how significant the impact was going to be,” Alpha Beta director Andrew Charlton told The Sydney Morning Herald.
“For a lot of young people who took it out, that’s an enormous amount of money.”
In Chinchilla, Mr Cosgrove said the research figures rung true for sports equipment and apparel, with trade up as much as 20 percent in recent months.
He said some customers were among the many who’d resolved to embark on a health kick during lockdown, especially after gyms nationwide were forced to close.
“Everyone came in and went nuts buying all the gym gear to have at home, so we sold all of our weights,” Mr Cosgrove said.
“Because every sports store in the country had the same problem, all the suppliers across the country ran out of gear, and it all comes from China.”