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Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
February 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 1.1% ($346.5m) from January 2021 to February 2021. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 8.7% in February 2021 compared with February 2020. 
Feb-2021 ($m)Jan-2021 to Feb-2021 (% change)Feb-2020 to Feb-2021 (% change)
Trendnanana
Seasonally Adjusted30192.0-1.18.7

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for February 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 1 April 2021.

Total retail turnover

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  • The fall of 1.1% in February 2021 follows a rise in January 2021 of 0.3% (revised from 0.5%). 
  • The falls were led by Victoria (-4%) and Western Australia (-6%). Both states saw COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during February. 
  • Partially offsetting falls in these states were rises in New South Wales and Queensland, which had seen COVID-19 restrictions impact January 2021.
  • By industry, Food retailing led the falls, down 3%. All states and territories saw a fall in Food retailing, although the industry remains 6.5% above the levels of February 2020.
  • There were mixed results across the other industries. Industry results were impacted by temporary store closures in Western Australia and Victoria. 

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.
  • A review of seasonality was undertaken following the final January 2021 month release on 4 March 2021. This has led to revisions to the seasonally adjusted series. 

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8501.0.55.008.