Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary

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Contains preliminary monthly aggregate estimates of retail turnover in Australia

Reference period
May 2021

Key statistics

  • The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 0.1% ($41.1m) in May 2021. 
  • In seasonally adjusted terms, Australian turnover rose 7.4% in May 2021 compared with May 2020. 
May-2021 ($m)Apr-2021 to May-2021 (% change)May-2020 to May-2021 (% change)
Seasonally Adjusted31,

This release provides a preliminary estimate for Australian retail turnover for May 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 5 July 2021.

The final release of Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary (cat. no. 8501.0.55.008) will be for the June 2021 reference month. This will be released 21 July 2021.

Total retail turnover

  • The rise of 0.1% in May 2021 follows a rise of 1.1% in April 2021.

  • May saw offsetting movements at the industry level. Food retailing (1.5%) led the rises, but this was offset by falls in Household goods (-1.0%), and Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-1.5%).

  • Coronavirus restrictions in Victoria led to a fall of 1.5% in the state. Victoria saw falls in five of the six industries. The falls were offset by a rise in Food retailing (4.0%), with Supermarket sales particularly strong. 

  • Queensland and Western Australia offset the fall from Victoria, both seeing rises of 1.5%.  

  • Through-the-year sales rose 7.4% in May 2021 compared to May 2020, following a 25% annual rise in April 2021. Volatile results in through-the-year terms are due to coronavirus impacts, including nationwide restrictions, that impacted retail in 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.

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