Retail sales down 3.9 per cent after 11 consecutive rises

Media Release

Australian retail turnover fell 3.9 per cent in December 2022, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This follows a 1.7 per cent rise in November 2022.

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, said: “This is the first monthly fall in retail turnover for 2022, following eleven consecutive monthly rises. Retail turnover remains elevated at its sixth highest level in the series and was up 7.5 per cent through the year.

“The large fall in December suggests that retail spending is slowing due to high cost-of-living pressures. Retail businesses reported that many consumers had responded to these pressures by doing more Christmas shopping in November to take advantage of heavy promotional activity and discounting as part of the Black Friday sales event.”  

“Seasonal spending patterns continue to change and evolve around Black Friday and the holiday period.

“While there was a strong rise in original terms for December, as is expected in the lead up to Christmas, this year’s rise in original terms was smaller than those typically seen in past December months. This has led to the large seasonally adjusted fall,” Mr Dorber said.

Turnover fell in industries previously boosted by November Black Friday sales. Department stores had the largest fall, (-14.3 per cent), followed by clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-13.1 per cent), household goods retailing (-7.8 per cent) and other retailing (-4.6 per cent).

Food retailing was the only industry to record a rise in December (+0.3 per cent), while cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services was relatively unchanged from November.

Retail turnover fell across all states and territories, with the majority down by more than 3.0 per cent.

“The latest Consumer Price Index showed that prices continued to rise strongly in the December quarter. To see the effect of consumer prices on recent turnover growth, it will be important to look at quarterly retail sales volumes which we will release next week,” Mr Dorber said.

Additional information on the December reference period, including quarterly price and volume data, will be released on 6 February 2023.

More industry and state analysis and further information on the statistical methodology is available in Retail Trade, Australia (cat no. 8501.0).

Media notes

  • All statistical figures in this media release are in seasonally adjusted terms.

  • Seasonal adjustment is the process of estimating and removing seasonal effects to allow comparison of data for adjacent months. See methodology for more details.

  • Revisions to seasonally adjusted estimates are due to reinstatement of the concurrent adjustment methodology from the November 2022 reference month, following a review of seasonal patterns. For further information, please read survey impacts and changes.

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.

  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).

  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.

Back to top of the page