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Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
August 2020

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 4.2% (-$1,276.3m) from July 2020 to August 2020. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 6.9% in August 2020 compared with August 2019. This compares to an annual movement of 12.0% in July 2020.  
Aug-2020 ($m)Jul-2020 to Aug-2020 (% change)Aug-2019 to Aug-2020 (% change)
Turnover at current prices
Seasonally Adjusted29 429.0-4.26.9

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for August 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 2 October 2020.

Total retail turnover

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  • Victoria led the falls, down 12.6% compared to July 2020. Stage-4 restrictions in Melbourne, and Stage-3 restrictions in Regional Victoria, restricted trading for non-essential retail businesses. 
  • Excluding Victoria, the rest of Australia fell 1.5% from July 2020 to August 2020.
  • All industries fell, primarily driven by the Victorian result, although there were falls in most states and territories.
  • At the industry level, Household goods retailing led the falls, although sales in this industry remain 20% above the levels of August 2019. 
  • Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, Department stores, and Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, also saw large monthly falls, with the largest falls recorded in Victoria. New South Wales saw a large fall in Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services.
  • Food retailing saw a small fall, with mixed results amongst the states and territories. 

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.