Virus, petrol costs a dampener for summer

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics and Business Correspondent
·2-min read

Hopes of an explosion in Australians travelling the country this summer with international borders closed may have been a little optimistic.

Less than half of Australians intend to travel for holidays between November and February, compared with more than three-in-four people who would normally travel at this time of year.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found reasons for not travelling included COVID-19 restrictions (44 per cent), concerns about the risk of COVID-19 (30 per cent) and "too much uncertainty" (23 per cent).

The findings were in the bureau's household impacts of COVID-19 survey for October, a special series introduced to see how Australians are coping with the pandemic.

"This may end up being positive for retailers and local stores if Aussies decide on retail therapy instead," Commonwealth Securities chief economist Craig James said.

Aside from worries over the coronavirus, rising petrol prices could keep the car in the garage this summer.

While petrol prices are still well down for this time of year compared with previous years, pump prices are set to lift.

"World crude oil prices have lifted on optimism about the potential for an effective vaccine to be rolled out, potentially boosting demand," Mr James said.

"That means there is the potential for higher pump prices for Aussie motorists."

Filling up the car with petrol is the single biggest weekly purchase by most families.

The Singapore gasoline price has already risen by about 16 per cent or $US6 a barrel, which means an extra six cents a litre at the pump.

The ABS report showed among those intending to travel within a month of COVID-19 restrictions easing, just over half were likely to travel within their own state or territory.

One in five plan to travel to another state or territory, while just seven per cent were up to the risk of travelling overseas.

The survey found just over half of Australians would definitely get a COVID-19 test if they woke up with mild symptoms of a respiratory infection.

The bureau's Michelle Marquardt said the likelihood of someone getting a test increased if symptoms were more severe, with more than four in five saying they would get tested in these circumstances.