CANBERRA, AAP – As coronavirus lockdowns ease and borders reopen, retailers are hoping to make up for the substantial trading losses they have suffered in recent months.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra says the lockdowns have had a significant impact on discretionary retailers and department stores in particular.

“With retail back up and running in NSW, the ACT and with Victoria to follow suit, businesses are looking to cash in with the return of customers for the Christmas shopping rush,” Mr Zahra said.

“It’s been a hellish three months or so for many people and businesses, but there’s pent-up demand in parts of the country that have been locked down and people are looking forward to getting back out, shopping and supporting their favourite businesses.”

The latest Mastercard SpendingPulse, which reports on national retail sales across all payment types, showed that while retail sales rose 0.6 per cent in September, they were down 0.8 per cent on the year.

Notably, annual sales were 32.5 per cent down in the ACT, 10 per cent lower in NSW and 7.9 per cent weaker in Victoria.

The states that have been spared the pain of lockdowns fared much better over the year, with Western Australia up six per cent, Queensland 2.1 per cent higher and South Australia rising 3.3 per cent.

Consumer and business confidence has been buoyed by NSW emerging from a lengthy lockdown, as has the ACT, and Victoria is about to follow suit this week.

Queensland has also pledged to open its borders in December, a positive for its tourism industry in the summer months.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is optimistic of a very strong economic rebound in the December quarter and into 2022 after a widely expected contraction in the September quarter.

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute leading index for September due on Wednesday may give a clue to the strength of the recovery.

It indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future.

In August, the index pointed to annual growth holding just above its long-term trend of around 2.8 per cent.

The minutes of the RBA’s October 5 board meeting released on Tuesday said the central scenario had the economy returning to its pre-Delta path by the second half of 2022.

“Nonetheless, members acknowledged that the recovery was likely to be uneven across the economy and that uncertainty would be a feature of the outlook for some time yet,” the minutes said.

The National Skills Commission will also release its final report for September.