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Retail Trade, Australia

Monthly and quarterly estimates of turnover and volumes for retail businesses. Includes store and online sales by Australian retail businesses

Reference period
March 2020
Released
6/05/2020

Key statistics

  • The trend series has been suspended from February 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 8.5%.

Main features

March key figures

  March 2020February 2020 to March 2020
  $m% change
Turnover at current prices  
 Trendnana
 Seasonally Adjusted30 110.98.5
na not available
 
  March Qtr 2020December Qtr 2019 to March Qtr 2020
  $m% change
Turnover in volume terms  
 Trendnana
 Seasonally Adjusted80 721.20.7
na not available
 
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March key points

Current prices

  • Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on retail trade the trend series has been suspended from February 2020.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 8.5% in March 2020. This follows a rise of 0.6% in February, and a fall of 0.4% in January 2020.
  • The following industries rose in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020: Food retailing (24.1%), Other retailing (16.6%), and Household goods retailing (9.1%). Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-22.9%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-22.6%), and Department stores (-8.9%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020.
  • The following states and territories rose in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020: New South Wales (8.0%), Victoria (7.7%), Queensland (8.8%), Western Australia (9.9%), South Australia (9.4%), Tasmania (8.9%), the Australian Capital Territory (9.5%), and the Northern Territory (11.6%).
     

Volume measures

  • In volume terms, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Australian turnover rose 0.7% in the March quarter 2020.
     

Changes in this issue

There are no revisions to the original estimates. This issue includes updated online retail turnover estimates for the March 2020 reference month and updated per capita turnover for the March quarter 2020. The estimates are provided and explained in the appendix section of this publication.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March

The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. From 1 February, the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China. These restrictions were progressively increased until they applied to all non-residents. In March, regulations to encourage social distancing saw further impacts on the ability of businesses to trade as normal. This included restrictions on dining-in at restaurants and restrictions on the number of people that could be in a shop at a particular time.

COVID-19 saw a minor impact on data collection activities for the March 2020 reference month. Individual retail businesses reported a number of impacts attributed to COVID-19.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in retail activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in retail spending that will occur during this time, as certain businesses are restricted from trading for example. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this irregular event, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying retail activity.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in retail activity can be accurately estimated. The retail trend series has therefore been suspended as at February 2020. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in retail.

Update to seasonal adjustment methods

Retail Trade uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are re-estimated each time a new data point becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual real-world events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From March 2020, seasonal factors will be calculated using data up to and including February 2020, then projected from March 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.

Time series data

  • Data available from the Data downloads section of this issue on the ABS website include longer time series of tables in this publication:
  • Monthly retail turnover by state and 15 industry subgroups in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Monthly retail turnover completely enumerated and sample sectors, by six industry groups and also by state in original terms
  • Monthly retail turnover completely enumerated sector, total level in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly retail chain volume measures by six industry groups and also by state in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly retail turnover per capita in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly sales to households by selected service industries in original terms
  • Quarterly measures of total retail turnover per capita.
     

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Analysis - total retail

Total retail - monthly

The chart below shows the trend series to January 2020, and the seasonally adjusted series to March 2020. Note, the trend series has been suspended.

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Australian turnover rose 8.5% in March 2020, following a rise of 0.6% in February, and a fall of 0.4% in January 2020.

The original estimate for Australian turnover rose 14.7% in March 2020. The original estimate for chains and other large retailers rose 18.2% in March 2020. The original estimate for smaller retailers rose 6.0% in March 2020.

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Total retail - quarterly

In volume terms, the seasonally adjusted estimate for the March quarter 2020 rose 0.7%. This follows a rise of 0.5% in the December quarter 2019, and a fall of 0.1% in the September quarter 2019.

In the March quarter 2020 the seasonally adjusted estimate rose in volume terms for Food retailing (6.4%), Other retailing (3.9%), and Household goods retailing (2.2%). Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-8.4%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-12.1%), and Department Stores (-5.2%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in the March quarter 2020.

The Implicit Price Deflator for Australian turnover rose 1.9% in seasonally adjusted terms in the March quarter 2020.

Total retail - by state

The following states and territories rose in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020: New South Wales (8.0%), Victoria (7.7%), Queensland (8.8%), Western Australia (9.9%), South Australia (9.4%), Tasmania (8.9%), the Australian Capital Territory (9.5%), and the Northern Territory (11.6%).

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In the March quarter 2020, the seasonally adjusted estimate rose in volume terms in the following states and territories: Queensland (1.9%), Victoria (1.0%), Western Australia (1.0%), South Australia (0.7%), Tasmania (1.2%), and the Northern Territory (0.2%). New South Wales (-0.3%) and the Australian Capital Territory (-0.7%) fell in seasonally adjusted volume terms in the March quarter 2020.

Analysis by industry

Food retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Food retailing rose 24.1% in March 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate rose for Supermarkets and grocery stores (23.0%), Liquor retailing (30.2%), and Other specialised food retailing (30.5%).

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Household goods retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Household goods retailing rose 9.1% in March 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate rose for Hardware, building and garden supplies retailing (17.4%), and Electrical and electronic goods retailing (11.3%), and fell for Furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing (-5.6%).

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Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing fell 22.6% in March 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Clothing retailing (-25.9%), and Footwear and other personal accessory retailing (-15.5%).

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Department stores

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Department stores fell 8.9% in March 2020.

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Other retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Other retailing rose 16.6% in March 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate rose for Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry goods retailing (22.3%), Other retailing n.e.c. (14.6%), and Other recreational goods retailing (14.1%), and fell for Newspaper and book retailing (-7.1%).

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Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell 22.9% in March 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Cafes, restaurants and catering services (-30.3%), and Takeaway food services (-13.0%).

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Supplementary COVID-19 analysis

Supermarkets and grocery stores retail turnover – supplementary COVID-19 analysis

To enhance the understanding of the economic impacts of COVID-19, scanner data was used to conduct analysis on supermarkets and grocery store spending.

For the purpose of analysis, supermarket products were split into three categories. Perishable Goods contain fresh food items such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. Non-Perishable Goods contain food items with a long shelf life such as flour, sugar, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned and dry mix soups, confectionary and long life milk products. All Other Products contain non-food items such as cleaning products, medicinal products, toiletries and toilet paper.

The analysis shows that retail turnover for Non-Perishable Goods, Perishable Goods and All Other Products increased by 39.0%, 21.6% and 30.5% respectively in March 2020 compared to February 2020, in original terms.

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While there were rises across all three categories, rises were most pronounced in Non-Perishable goods, for example canned soup. Consumers favoured kitchen staples with a long shelf life. Perishable goods rose too, but monthly rises were far smaller in fruit and vegetables for example.

Product categories of interest

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On average, Perishable Goods make up approximately 40% of total supermarket turnover each month, whilst Non-Perishable Goods and All Other Products make up approximately 35% and 25% respectively.

Data downloads

Table 1. Retail turnover, by industry group

Table 2. Retail turnover, by industry group - percentage change from previous month

Table 3. Retail turnover, by state

Table 4. Retail turnover, by state - percentage change from previous month

Table 5. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, volume and price, seasonally adjusted - by industry group

Table 6. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, volume and price, seasonally adjusted - by state

Table 7. Quarterly retail turnover, chain volume measures - by industry group

Table 8. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, chain volume measures - by industry group

Table 9. Quarterly retail turnover, chain volume measures - by state

Table 10. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, chain volume measures - by state

Table 11. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, original

Table 12. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, seasonally adjusted

Table 13. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, trend

Table 14. Retail turnover; completely enumerated (large) and sample (small), by industry group

Table 15. Retail turnover; completely enumerated (large) and sample (small), by state

Table 16. Retail turnover, completely enumerated sector: Australia

Table 17. Quarterly consumer sales, Australia, by type of activity

Table 18. Quarterly consumer sales, Australia, by type of activity - percentage change from previous quarter

Table 19. Quarterly retail turnover per capita, Australia, all series

Table 20. Quarterly retail turnover per capita, Australia, all series - percentage change from previous quarter

All time series spreadsheets