Retail turnover boosted by sales events

Media Release

Australian retail turnover rose 0.7 per cent in May 2023, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This follows a flat result in April 2023 and a 0.4 per cent rise in March 2023.

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, said: "Retail turnover was supported by a rise in spending on food and eating out, combined with a boost in spending on discretionary goods.

“This latest rise reflected some resilience in spending with consumers taking advantage of larger than usual promotional activity and sales events for May.”

Other retailing recorded the largest rise (+2.2 per cent), with turnover growing strongly across a variety of businesses, including online-only retailers, florists, and pharmaceutical and cosmetics retailers. An early start to some end of financial year sales events boosted turnover along with Mother’s Day and the ‘Click Frenzy Mayhem’ sales event.

“Just as we saw during the November Black Friday sales last year, consumers appeared to take extra advantage of discounting during large sales events in May in response to cost-of-living pressures,” Mr Dorber said.

Household goods retailing (+0.6 per cent) had a modest rise following three straight monthly falls, with turnover down (-4.4 per cent) since May 2022.

Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing (-0.6 per cent) and department stores (-0.5 per cent) were the only retail categories to fall this month. This follows a rise in April when sales were boosted by increased spending on clothing items due to cooler and wetter than average weather.

For food-related industries, turnover rose in both cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (+1.4 per cent) and food retailing (+0.3 per cent). The rise in May means that cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services turnover is again at a record level following last month’s small fall. Food retailing has recorded a monthly rise for 16 of the past 18 months.

“Most of the growth in food-related spending this year has been driven by rising prices. This was seen in yesterday’s release of the Monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI), which showed that food prices rose 7.9 per cent in the 12 months to May. The largest contributor to this increase was from meals out and takeaway food, as businesses passed on their higher costs through price rises,” Mr Dorber said.

Retail turnover rose across most of the states and territories. The Northern Territory (+1.6 per cent) recorded the largest rise and is now at its highest level. Tasmania recorded the only fall in turnover, down 0.1 per cent.

More information on the May reference period will be released on 5 July 2023 containing more detailed results, including state by industry, state by industry sub-group and online sales timeseries.

The ABS would like to thank businesses for their continued support in responding to our surveys.

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 the concurrent methodology for deriving seasonal factors. 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.

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