Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

This is not the latest release View the latest release

Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
March 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 1.4% ($423.9m) from February 2021 to March 2021. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 2.3% in March 2021 compared with March 2020. 
  • The March Quarter 2021 will be relatively unchanged compared to the December quarter 2020, in seasonally adjusted current price terms.
Mar-2021 ($m)Feb-2021 to Mar-2021 (% change)Mar-2020 to Mar-2021 (% change)
Seasonally Adjusted30,724.51.42.3

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for March 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 10 May 2021.

Total retail turnover

  • The rise of 1.4% in March 2021 follows a fall in February 2021 of 0.8%.
  • The rises were led by Victoria (4%) and Western Australia (5.5%), with both states rebounding from COVID-19 lockdown restrictions during February. 
  • Queensland, which saw COVID-19 restrictions impact March 2021, saw a minor fall. Brisbane saw a 3-day lockdown at the end of March. 
  • Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (6%) led the industry rises, which were driven by Victoria and Western Australia. Similarly, these states saw rises for Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, and Department stores.  These rises were offset by a 1% fall in Food retailing.
  • Through-the-year sales rose 2.3% in March 2021 compared to March 2020, following a 9.1% annual rise in February 2021. This change reflects the introduction of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020, which led to a spike in sales in Food retailing in that month. 
  • In current price seasonally adjusted terms, the March quarter is showing a 0.1% fall from the December quarter 2020. 

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.

Back to top of the page