Australia preliminary retail sales down 4.2% in August, Victoria hit hard

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past sales signs on display in the window of a retail store at a shopping mall in Sydney, Australia, September 4, 2018. Picture taken September 4, 2018. REUTERS/David Gray

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian retail sales fell 4.2% in August from the month earlier, preliminary data showed on Wednesday, with the virus-stricken state of Victoria bearing the brunt of the downturn.

Victoria saw large falls across all industries, except food retailing as a strict lockdown saw many businesses shut their doors to customers.

Although the falls were largest in Victoria, there were also declines in most other states, the data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed. Excluding Victoria, retail trade across the rest of the country fell 1.5% in August, from July.

Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Shri Navaratnam