Swift lift in February retail sales

Media Release

Australian retail turnover rose 0.3 per cent (seasonally adjusted) in February 2024, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This followed a rise of 1.1 per cent in January 2024 and a fall of 2.1 per cent in December 2023.

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, said: "Seven sold-out Taylor Swift concerts in Sydney and Melbourne boosted retail spending this month, with over 600,000 Swifties flocking to these events. This led to increased spending on clothing, merchandise, accessories and dining out.”

“Looking past the temporary and one-off impact of the Taylor Swift concerts, underlying growth in retail turnover was up only 0.1 per cent in trend terms. After a period of higher volatility from November through to January, underlying spending has stagnated.”

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (4.2 per cent) and department stores (2.3 per cent) saw the largest industry rises in February. 

“Fashion and accessory retailers told us offerings of Taylor Swift inspired outfits and related do-it-yourself accessories added to turnover in February,” Mr Dorber said.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.5 per cent) had a more modest rise this month with an increase in spending also linked to the Taylor Swift concerts. This followed a 1.4 per cent rise in January, which was boosted by large sporting events.

“Another rise in turnover for catering services, cafes, restaurants and takeaway businesses showed that consumers are still prepared to spend at large social events as seen last month with the big crowds at the tennis and cricket,” Mr Dorber said. 

Turnover fell in household goods retailing (-0.8 per cent), other retailing (-0.4 per cent) and food retailing (-0.1 per cent), which reflected weaker underlying retail spending.  

Retail turnover rose in most jurisdictions. Victoria (0.7 per cent) and New South Wales (0.6 per cent) had large rises, with Queensland recording the largest fall (-0.5 per cent).

“New South Wales and Victoria benefited from the influx of visitors in February and increased spending from local concert-goers,” Mr Dorber said.

More information on the February reference period will be released on 5 April 2024.

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

Media notes

  • The leap year day on February 29 has been analysed and accounted for in the retail trade seasonally adjusted and trend estimates. The seasonal adjustment process accounts for this through trading day adjustments. The impact of the extra leap year day will be evident in the original (non-seasonally adjusted) series. For further information please refer to this note.
  • A media statement on Thursday 23 November 2023 announced that the ABS would be ceasing the publication of Retail Trade, Australia in August 2025. For more information, please visit the Future cessation of the Retail Business Survey and Retail Trade Publication webpage.
  • Revisions to seasonally adjusted estimates are due to concurrent methodology with the larger than usual revisions reflecting improvements in the data as the seasonal pattern around Black Friday sales and impacts on spending in surrounding months becomes clearer and distinct from irregular events. For further information, please refer to the article released in November explaining the effect of changes in the seasonality of retail turnover and the seasonality in retail turnover section of survey impacts and changes.
  • Seasonal adjustment is the process of estimating and removing seasonal effects to allow comparison of data for adjacent months. See methodology for more details.
  • The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in retail activity. It is recommended that trend estimates be used alongside the seasonally adjusted headline measure to analyse and understand underlying activity in retail spending over the longer term. See methodology for more details on trend estimates.
  • 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 media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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