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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2002  
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Contents >> Service Industries >> Retailing in the '90s

RETAILING IN THE '90s

The ABS conducted its first retail industry collection in respect of 1947-48 and has repeated them at about six yearly intervals until the most recent, undertaken in respect of 1998-99. This article outlines some of the main changes in the characteristics of the retail industry over the last decade.

Compared with 1991-92, results for 1998-99 show that the number of businesses in the retail trade industry increased by 18% and employment increased by 33%. Total income over the period increased by 48%, representing an annual growth rate of 5%, while operating profit before tax almost doubled to $5.4b (table 21.7).

21.7 RETAIL INDUSTRY - 1991-92 and 1998-99

Units
1991-92
1998-99
Percentage change
%

Businesses(a)no.
83,596
98,289
17.6
Total employmentno. of persons
831,315
1,104,651
32.9
Total income$m
114,307
169,251
48.1
Operating profit before tax$m
2,738
5,423
98.1
Operating profit margin%
2.4
3.2
. .

(a) Strictly the number of management units.

Source: Retail Industry, Australia, 1991-92 and 1998-99 (8622.0).


The retail sector is dominated by businesses located in the eastern seaboard States (table 21.8), with three-quarters of retail industry employment, wages and salaries and income being accounted for by businesses in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland. In 1998-99 New South Wales retailers accounted for the largest share, with 33% of the industry's employment, wages and salaries and income. In terms of total income, the percentage contributions for the remaining States and Territories in descending order were Victoria (23%), Queensland (18%), Western Australia (10%), South Australia (7%), Tasmania (4%), the Australian Capital Territory (2%) and the Northern Territory (1.5%). This order was also maintained for employment and wages and salaries. The distribution of these statistics is consistent with the estimated resident populations of the States and Territories at June 1999.

21.8 RETAIL INDUSTRY, By State - 1998-99

State/Territory
Total income

$m
Wages and salaries

$m
Employment(a)

no.

New South Wales
56,446
6,240
364,259
Victoria
39,170
4,504
258,874
Queensland
30,750
3,268
201,976
South Australia
12,657
1,569
89,972
Western Australia
17,239
1,833
106,544
Tasmania
6,604
630
43,034
Northern Territory
2,523
297
15,224
Australian Capital Territory
3,860
394
24,786
Total
169,251
18,736
1,104,651

(a) At 30 June 1999.

Source: Retail Industry, Australia, 1998-99 (8622.0).

In 1998-99 the supermarkets and grocery stores industry generated the highest retail sales in the retail sector ($38.3b) which was 26% of the total retail sales. Specialised food retailing, furniture, houseware and appliance retailing, motor vehicle retailing and motor vehicle services were the next highest, each contributing around 11% to total retail sales (table 21.9).

21.9 RETAIL SALES, By Industry Group - 1998-99

Industry group
Retail sales

$m
Share of total

%

Supermarket and grocery stores
38,329
26
Specialised food retailing
16,410
11
Department stores
11,885
8
Clothing and soft good retailing
8,996
6
Furniture, houseware and appliance retailing
16,266
11
Recreational good retailing
7,493
5
Other personal and household good retailing
14,896
10
Household equipment repair
96
1
Motor vehicle retailing
16,161
11
Motor vehicle services
15,697
11
Total retail trade
146,229
100

Source: Retail Industry, Australia, 1998-99 (8622.0).


Australians spent $146,229m on retail purchases during 1998-99. Food and groceries accounted for more than a third of these purchases, with takeaway food the highest single contributor to sales of food and groceries. The broad retail commodity grouping food and groceries accounted for $51,542m, or 35% of the total, on average about $2,700 per head of population. The largest selling food and grocery items were takeaway food ($7,532m); fresh fruit and vegetables ($5,181m); cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products ($4,719m); and bread, cakes, pastries and biscuits ($3,919m). The next largest commodity groupings were personal and other goods, on which Australians spent $31,591m (22%), and motor vehicles and associated goods $30,111m (21%).

Information relating to gross margins for individual commodities is available for the first time (the gross margin is the difference between the price at which a business purchases a good and the price for which it is sold, expressed as a percentage of the selling price). The individual commodities with the highest gross margins were jewellery and silverware, a gross margin of 49%, and womens' and girls' clothing at 46%. The individual commodities with the lowest gross margins were new cars and passenger vans at 5%, and petrol, diesel and distillate with a 7% gross margin (table 21.10).

21.10 INCOME AND GROSS MARGIN, By Selected Commodity Item - 1998-99

Item
Sales

$m
Gross margin

%

Jewellery and silverware
1,386
49
Womens' and girls' clothing
4,797
46
Fresh fruit and vegetables
5,181
37
Bread, cakes, pastries and biscuits
3,919
35
Furniture and mattresses
3,664
31
Fresh meat
3,512
29
Medical and pharmaceutical products
6,996
29
Newspapers, periodicals and maps
2,089
22
Personal computers
1,270
14
Cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products
4,719
11
New cars and passenger vans
7,139
5

Source: Retail Industry, Commodity Sales, Australia, 1998-99 (8624.0).


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