Retail sales volumes rise 1.2% in March quarter

Media Release

Australian retail sales volumes rose 1.2 per cent in the March quarter 2022, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This follows a 7.9 per cent increase in the December quarter 2021 and 4.3 per cent fall in the September quarter 2021.

Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics, said the March increase continues to add strength to retail sales volumes, which are now at a record high, up 4.9 per cent through the year.

“Consumers continued to spend in January, despite the reintroduction of some COVID-19 safety measures, as case numbers peaked with the emergence of the Omicron variant. As case numbers then began to fall and stabilise in February, and restrictions eased, consumer spending returned to familiar patterns seen following previous COVID-19 outbreaks.

“Most discretionary spending industries experienced rises in volumes, despite price increases. However, food retailing fell 1.5 per cent with strong price increases for fresh food and grocery items combining with more consumers choosing to dine at hospitality venues.” Mr James said.

Household goods retailing (-0.9 per cent) was the only other industry to fall in volume terms. Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services had the largest rise, up 8.3 per cent, adding further strength to last quarter’s result as businesses remained open in the middle of the Omicron outbreak. Other industries also benefited from easing restrictions including other retailing (2.3 per cent), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (3.6 per cent) and department stores (4.3 per cent).

States most impacted by Delta lockdowns in the September quarter 2021, recorded increases in sales volumes this quarter with New South Wales (1.4 per cent) and Victoria (1.5 per cent) leading the way. Queensland saw an increase (1.1 per cent), with boosted sales from flood recovery spending in March. South Australia (1.7 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (4.2 per cent) also rose this quarter.

Three states and territories recorded a fall in sales volumes this quarter, with Western Australia experiencing the largest fall (-0.3 per cent), followed by Tasmania (-0.9 per cent), and the Northern Territory (-1.7 per cent).

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

The ABS thanks all those who contributed data to this release. Further ABS data measuring the impact of COVID-19 on Australia can be found on the ABS website.

Media notes

  • When referring to rise and falls in terms of size, the numbers reflect the financial gain or loss in dollar terms, not necessarily the highest percentage rise of fall.
  • All statistical figures in this release are in seasonally adjusted volume terms.
  • Amendment made to source data in February 2022 leading to revised estimates. For information please see Post release 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).
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