Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

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Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
April 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 1.1% ($350.2m) from March 2021 to April 2021. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 25.1% in April 2021 compared with April 2020. 
Apr-2021 ($m)Mar-2021 to Apr-2021 (% change)Apr-2020 to Apr-2021 (% change)
Seasonally Adjusted31,

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for April 2021. This estimate is compiled from the monthly Retail Business Survey and is based on preliminary data provided by businesses that make-up approximately 80% of total retail turnover and is therefore subject to revision. The final monthly estimate will be published in Retail Trade, Australia (cat. no. 8501.0) on 3 June 2021.

Total retail turnover

  • The rise of 1.1% in April 2021 follows a rise in March 2021 of 1.3%.

  • The rises were led by Food retailing (1.5%), following falls in February and March 2021. 

  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (2.5%) also rose, with New South Wales especially strong. 

  • By state, New South Wales and Victoria saw rises of 2%, with turnover rising in all industries except for Department stores. 

  • Through-the-year sales rose 25.1% in April 2021 compared to April 2020, following a 2.2% annual rise in March 2021. This change reflects COVID-19 restrictions in April 2020, which led to a large fall in retail turnover that month.

Data notes

Caution should be exercised when interpreting preliminary estimates as they may be significantly different to the final published estimates. This is due to several factors:

  • Estimates are based on preliminary data provided by businesses that make-up approximately 80% of total retail turnover.
  • Where respondents have not yet provided their data, it is estimated (or 'imputed') based on previous responses or averages from similar responding units. The level of imputation in preliminary estimates is significantly higher than for final estimates.
  • The quality of imputation for preliminary releases may also be poorer than for final estimates, due to the higher level of non-response. Furthermore, historical imputes which are based on data from previous months, may not accurately reflect changes in the economy due to recent events.
  • Changes to imputation methods have been made from the March 2020 monthly release to ensure non-respondents are more accurately reflected by the responding units in the current COVID-19 environment.
  • Until February 2020 Retail Trade used the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors were re-estimated each time a new data point becomes available. If not appropriately accounted for, unusual real-world events, such as COVID-19, can distort estimates calculated using this method. From March 2020, seasonal factors are calculated using data up to and including February 2020, then projected from March 2020 onwards. This approach, known as the forward factor method, ensures that the seasonal factors are not distorted by COVID-19 impacts.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8501.0.55.008.

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