Retail Trade Replacement Program – Household Final Consumption Expenditure


Enhancements to the Monthly Household Spending Indicator will enable the ABS to cease the Retail Trade publication on 30 July 2025, providing users with a more comprehensive view on household consumption and eliminating the need for businesses to respond to the Retail Business Survey. Further details including the timeline of changes and frequently asked questions is available in Future cessation of the Retail Business Survey and Retail Trade Publication.

Retail Trade Replacement in National Accounts

The Retail Business Survey (RBS) is a key indicator used in quarterly National Accounts compilation, contributing approximately 24% to total Household Final Consumption Expenditure (HFCE) and 4% to the Production measure of Gross Domestic Product (GDP-P) on a quarterly basis. Additionally, it serves as a crucial input for State Final Demand.

The ABS will use bank transactions and other administrative sources as replacements for RBS in National Accounts compilation, and commenced replacement in a series of waves in 2024 and 2025. The first wave of data source replacement was implemented for HFCE in the December quarter 2023, Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product.

Wave Implementation

A wave approach is being used to transition between RBS data and administrative data sources. This approach gradually phases out the use of Retail Trade over four incremental waves, as outlined in Figure 1.  In each wave, bank transactions data and other administrative sources will be used in future outputs but will not introduce revisions to the back series.

Figure 1. Replacement schedule
Data item descriptionAverage Retail Trade contribution (Prior to Dec 2023 reference period) Replacement WaveIntended implementation 
Food  30%Wave 1Implemented: December quarter 2023  
Other Goods and Services41%Wave 1Implemented: December quarter 2023
Alcoholic beverages 50%Wave 2Implemented: March quarter 2024
Clothing and footwear 100%Wave 2Implemented: March quarter 2024
Furnishings and household equipment95%Wave 3June quarter 2024
Hotels, cafes and restaurants39%Wave 3June quarter 2024
Health32%Wave 4December quarter 202
Recreation and culture55%Wave 4December quarter 2024

The key reasons for this waved approach are: 

  • Minimal Changes for Users: By implementing changes in waves, the ABS minimises disruptions for users. Rather than a sudden overhaul, the gradual replacement allows stakeholders to adapt incrementally.
  • Reduced Systems Complexity: The wave approach avoids the system complexities of a “big bang” approach and simplifies system management.
  • Effective Risk Mitigation:  Incremental waves provide opportunities for risk assessment and mitigation. At each stage, the ABS can review progress, assess potential risks, and make informed decisions. 

Bank Transactions: Scope and Coverage Adjustments

The HFCE coverage in bank transactions data is considerable, and substantial analysis has been undertaken to ensure conceptual alignment with the Australian National Accounts (ANA) framework.

As bank data comprise of credit and debit card expenditure only, adjustments have been made to:

  • Account for cash spending and HFCE not captured through the existing set of bank data providers. Data sourced from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s comprehensive surveys of the banking sector is used to inform cash and other banking institutions adjustments.
  • Remove non-resident spending (such as overseas students) and include residential spending whilst overseas.

The ABS has quality-assured bank transactions data as a replacement data source for the RBS, ensuring that it yields coherent outputs to those derived from the RBS and that it is fit for purpose in HFCE compilation.

Replacement approach

Growth rates derived from bank transactions data and other administrative sources will be used to splice forward components of HFCE that were previously moved forward using RBS derived growth rates. This splicing process will not introduce revisions to the back series.


If you have a question about the cessation of the Retail Business Survey, or if you are interested in being part of the conversation about the enhancements to the Monthly Household Spending Indicator, Monthly Business Turnover Indicator or Household Final Consumption Expenditure, please email To submit anonymous feedback please click the green Feedback button on the right hand side of this page.

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