Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

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Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
December 2020

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 4.2% (-$1,329.9m) from November 2020 to December 2020. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 9.4% in December 2020 compared with December 2019. 
Dec-2020 ($m)Nov-2020 to Dec-2020 (% change)Dec-2019 to Dec-2020 (% change)
Turnover at current prices
Seasonally Adjusted30,324.2-4.29.4

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for December 2020. 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 5 February 2021.

Total retail turnover

  • Following the November rise, all industries except for Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell.
  • Household goods retailing led the falls (-9%), following the Black Friday sales, and new product releases, that boosted turnover in November. 
  • Similarly, Other retailing, Department stores, and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, saw falls after reporting large rises in November. 
  • Food retailing fell 2%, with sales across the Food industry down in Victoria and New South Wales in line with restrictions on Christmas gatherings. 
  • Victoria led the falls by state, down 7% after a 22% rise in November. New South Wales saw a fall of 5%, with localised trading restrictions imposed in parts of Sydney impacting turnover. 
  • In seasonally adjusted current price terms, the preliminary estimate shows the December quarter rose 2.4%. This follows a rise of 7.0% in the September quarter. Quarterly volume estimates will be included in the final release on 5 February 2021.

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 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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