5676.0 - Business Indicators, Australia, Mar 2020 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 02/06/2020   
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March Key Figures

Dec Qtr 19 to Mar Qtr 20
Mar Qtr 19 to Mar Qtr 20

Sales of goods and services (Chain volume measures)
Seasonally Adjusted
Wholesale trade
Seasonally Adjusted
Inventories (Chain volume measures)
Seasonally Adjusted
Company gross operating profits
Seasonally Adjusted
Wages and salaries
Seasonally Adjusted

na not available, trend estimates have been suspended due to the impacts of COVID-19

Inventories (volume terms), Seasonally adjusted estimates
Graph: Inventories (volume terms), Seasonally adjusted estimates

Company gross operating profits, Seasonally adjusted estimates
Graph: Company gross operating profits, Seasonally adjusted estimates

March Key Points

Chain Volume Estimates
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for inventories fell 1.2% in the March quarter 2020.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for Manufacturing sales of goods and services rose 2.2% this quarter.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for Wholesale trade sales of goods and services rose 1.6%.

Current Prices Estimates
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for company gross operating profits rose 1.1% in the March quarter 2020.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate for wages and salaries remained relatively unchanged.


Forthcoming Issues

Issue (Quarter) Release Date
June 2020 31 August 2020
September 2020 30 November 2020
December 2020 1 March 2021
March 2021 1 June 2021

Comparison between company gross operating profits and gross operating surplus

Valuation changes have had an impact on the value of inventories held by Australian businesses this quarter. An inventories valuation adjustment (IVA) is applied in the calculation of the gross operating surplus of private non-financial corporations (GOS) estimate in the Australian National Accounts. The IVA for the March quarter 2020 is $533m, which is $1,633m higher than the December quarter 2019 IVA of -$1,100m.

No adjustment is made to the company gross operating profits (CGOP) estimate in this publication and, as a result, users should exercise caution when comparing CGOP and GOS. It should be noted that there are other differences between the two series. In particular, changes are made to GOS when annual benchmarks are applied and slightly different seasonal factors apply to the two series. Given this, while CGOP movements are an appropriate indicator for GOS, the two series will not have equivalent seasonally adjusted movements from quarter to quarter.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March quarter 2020

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 quarter 2020. Individual businesses reported a number of impacts attributed to COVID-19 depending on the industry.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in business activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in 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 business activity.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in business activity can be accurately estimated. The Business Indicators trend series have therefore been suspended and will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in business activity.

Update to seasonal adjustment methods

Business Indicators Australia 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 quarter 2020 for selected series, seasonal factors will be calculated using data up to and including December quarter 2019, then projected from March quarter 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted for industries affected by COVID-19 impacts. Switching to the forward factor method may result in revisions in seasonal data for future quarters when the concurrent seasonal adjustment method is reinstated.


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