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Retail turnover rises 8.5 per cent in March

Released
6/05/2020

Australian retail turnover rose 8.5 per cent in March 2020, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.

This follows a rise of 0.6 per cent in February 2020.

"COVID-19 heavily impacted retail trade in March" said Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys. "There was unprecedented demand in food retailing, household goods, and other retailing. However the impact of social distancing regulations saw sales fall in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, and discretionary spending in clothing footwear and personal accessory retailing, and department stores, was also weak. The March month saw both the strongest rise in food retailing, and the strongest fall in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, that we have seen in the history of the series."

There were rises for food retailing (24.1 per cent), other retailing (16.6 per cent), and household goods retailing (9.1 per cent). These rises were partially offset by a fall in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-22.9 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-22.6 per cent), and department stores (-8.9 per cent).

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were rises in New South Wales (8.0 per cent), Victoria (7.7 per cent), Queensland (8.8 per cent), Western Australia (9.9 per cent), South Australia (9.4 per cent), Tasmania (8.9 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (9.5 per cent), and the Northern Territory (11.6 per cent) in March 2020.

For the March quarter 2020, there was a rise of 0.7 per cent in seasonally adjusted volume terms. A strong March month boosted the quarterly current price result to 2.7 per cent seasonally adjusted rise but volume rises were moderated by strong prices in food especially. Quarterly rises in volumes were led by food retailing (6.4 per cent), other retailing (3.9 per cent), and household goods retailing (2.2 per cent). The rises were slightly offset by strong seasonally adjusted volume falls in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-8.4 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-12.1 per cent), and department stores (-5.2 per cent).

Online retail turnover contributed 7.1 per cent to total retail turnover in original terms in March 2020, up from 6.6 per cent in February 2020. In March 2019, online retail turnover contributed 5.7 per cent to total retail.

The trend series has been suspended from February, due to COVID-19 and associated changes that will impact the original and seasonally adjusted series.

More detailed industry analysis, including additional analysis of food and grocery sales done in conjunction with the Consumer Price Index team, and further information on the statistical methodology is available in Retail Trade, Australia (cat no. 8501.0).

The next release will be the Preliminary result for the April month. Data will be released in the week of 18 May.

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