Retail spending fell across the nation in August, with Victoria recording a massive 12.6 per cent drop as the state’s COVID-19 restrictions hit non-essential retail businesses.

Australian Bureau of Statistics preliminary retail trade figures for the month showed national turnover fell by 4.2 per cent compared to July.

Outside of Victoria, retail activity fell 1.5 per cent.

“Household goods retailing led the falls, although sales in this industry remain 20 per cent above the levels of August 2019,” the bureau said on Wednesday.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, department stores, and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services also saw big monthly falls, with the largest drops recorded in Victoria.

Over the year, retail turnover was still 6.9 per cent higher, although it was up 12 per cent in the 12 months to July.

Separate figures saw demand for workers nationally growing for a fourth month in a row but the pace slowed in August and job advertising declined again in Victoria.

Department of Education, Skills and Employment data showed jobs ads posted on the internet in August rose 1.3 per cent but were still down 19.5 per cent compared with a year earlier.

All jurisdictions , except Victoria, recorded gains in recruitment activity during the month.

In Victoria, jobs fell by 7.5 per cent – its second monthly decline.

In contrast, job ads rose by 7.4 per cent in South Australia, 8.1 per cent in Tasmania, 8.3 per cent in the ACT and 8.7 per cent in Western Australia.

During the month, jobs ads increased in three of the eight occupational groups monitored by the department, led by a 5.8 per cent rise in demand for “professional” positions.

Labourers were least in demand, down 4.1 per cent.