Retail turnover down 1.1% in September

Media Release

Australian retail turnover fell 1.1 per cent in September 2020, seasonally adjusted, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Retail Trade figures.

This updates the Preliminary result of -1.5 per cent, and follows a fall of 4.0 per cent in August.

Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys, said "Falls in the September month were led by household goods retailing (-3.6 per cent), and food retailing (-1.5 per cent), however both industries continue to trade at elevated levels compared to September 2019." 

Other retailing (-0.7 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-1.1 per cent) also fell in September. 

There were rises in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (3.5 per cent), and department stores (1.0 per cent). 

In seasonally adjusted terms, there were falls in New South Wales (-0.9 per cent), Queensland (-1.2 per cent), Western Australia (-1.7 per cent), South Australia (-2.9 per cent), Victoria (-0.4 per cent), the Australian Capital Territory (-2.4 per cent), and Tasmania (-2.0 per cent). The Northern Territory (4.3 per cent) rose in seasonally adjusted terms in September 2020. 

Online sales remain elevated, making up 10.6 per cent of total retail sales in September 2020. Online contributed 6.6 per cent in September 2019.

Quarterly volumes rise 6.5 per cent

Retail volumes rose 6.5 per cent in the September quarter 2020, seasonally adjusted, the strongest quarterly volume rise in the history of the series. The rise follows a fall of 3.5 per cent in the June quarter 2020.

"The quarterly rise was driven by a recovery in industries that saw sharp falls in the June quarter 2020, as well as continued strength in industries such as food retailing, other retailing and household goods," said Mr James.

"Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (28.1 per cent), and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (35.5 per cent) led the rises. Despite the quarter-on-quarter rise, both industries continue to trade below the level of September 2019 in seasonally adjusted volume terms."

Food retailing (3.2 per cent), other retailing (3.5 per cent), and department stores (0.2 per cent) also rose in the September quarter. Household goods retailing (-0.2 per cent) fell slightly but leads volumes rises in annual terms. 

Quarterly volume growth was partially offset by Victoria, which fell 4.2 per cent. New South Wales (11.6 per cent) led the rises by state and territory. 

The trend series has been suspended from February 2020 due to COVID-19 and associated changes that will impact the original and seasonally adjusted series.

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

The next release will be the Preliminary result for the October month. Data will be released on 20 November 2020.

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