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Retail Trade, Australia

Monthly and quarterly estimates of turnover and volumes for retail businesses. Includes store and online sales by Australian retail businesses

Reference period
April 2020
Released
4/06/2020

Key statistics

  • The trend series has been suspended from February 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 17.7%.

Main features

April key figures

  April 2020March 2020 to April 2020
  $m% change
Turnover at current prices  
 Trend
na
na
 Seasonally Adjusted
24 791.4
-17.7
na not available
 
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April key points

Current prices

  • Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on retail trade the trend series has been suspended from February 2020.
  • The seasonally adjusted estimate fell 17.7% in April 2020. This follows a rise of 8.5% in March, and a rise of 0.6% in February 2020.
  • The following industries fell in seasonally adjusted terms in April 2020: Food retailing (-17.4%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-35.4%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-53.6%), Other retailing (-14.4%), Department stores (-14.9%), and Household goods retailing (-0.1%).
  • The following states and territories fell in seasonally adjusted terms in April 2020: Victoria (-21.1%), New South Wales (-17.5%), Queensland (-15.7%), Western Australia (-16.8%), South Australia (-14.6%), Tasmania (-17.5%), the Australian Capital Territory (-14.9%), and the Northern Territory (-7.7%).
     

Changes in this issue

There are no revisions to the original estimates.

This issue includes updated online retail turnover estimates for the April 2020 reference month and updated consumer sales estimates for the March 2020 quarter. The estimates are provided and explained in the appendix section of this publication.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in April

The World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. From 1 February, the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China. In March, regulations to encourage social distancing saw further impacts on the ability of businesses to trade as normal. This included restrictions on dining-in at restaurants, and restrictions on the number of people that could be in a shop at a particular time.

COVID-19 saw a minor impact on data collection activities for the April 2020 reference month. Individual retail businesses reported a number of impacts attributed to COVID-19. A significant number of retail businesses did not trade at all in April, while others closed their physical stores and maintained trade online.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in retail activity. In the short term, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in retail spending that will occur during this time, as certain businesses are restricted from trading for example. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for this irregular event, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying retail activity.

It may be some time before the underlying trend in retail activity can be accurately estimated. The retail trend series has therefore been suspended as at February 2020. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in retail.

Update to seasonal adjustment methods

Retail Trade uses the concurrent seasonal adjustment method, meaning that seasonal factors are 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 being 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.

Time series data

  • Data available from the Data downloads section of this issue on the ABS website include longer time series of tables in this publication:
  • Monthly retail turnover by state and 15 industry subgroups in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Monthly retail turnover completely enumerated and sample sectors, by six industry groups and also by state in original terms
  • Monthly retail turnover completely enumerated sector, total level in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly retail chain volume measures by six industry groups and also by state in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly retail turnover per capita in trend, seasonally adjusted and original terms
  • Quarterly sales to households by selected service industries in original terms
  • Quarterly measures of total retail turnover per capita.
     

Inquiries

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Analysis - total retail

Total retail - monthly

The chart below shows the trend series to January 2020, and the seasonally adjusted series to April 2020. Note, the trend series has been suspended.

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Australian turnover fell 17.7% in April 2020, following a rise of 8.5% in March, and a rise of 0.6% in February 2020.

The original estimate for Australian turnover fell 19.0% in April 2020. The original estimate for chains and other large retailers fell 16.6% in April 2020. The original estimate for smaller retailers fell 25.7% in April 2020.

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Total retail - by state

The following states and territories fell in seasonally adjusted terms in April 2020: Victoria (-21.1%), New South Wales (-17.5%), Queensland (-15.7%), Western Australia (-16.8%), South Australia (-14.6%), Tasmania (-17.5%), the Australian Capital Territory (-14.9%), and the Northern Territory (-7.7%).

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Analysis by industry

Food retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Food retailing fell 17.4% in April 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Supermarkets and grocery stores (-17.9%), Other specialised food retailing (-18.3%), and Liquor retailing (-12.4%).

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Analysis of supermarket and grocery store scanner data shows that monthly retail turnover fell in original terms for Non-perishable goods (-23.7%), Perishable goods (-15.3%), and All other products (-24.5%) in April 2020 compared to March 2020. These falls follow unprecedented demand in March 2020 where there were rises for Non-perishable goods (39.0%), Perishable goods (21.6%), and All other products (30.5%).

Household goods retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Household goods retailing fell 0.1% in April 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Furniture, floor coverings, houseware and textile goods retailing (-7.5%), and Electrical and electronic goods retailing (-2.5%), and rose for Hardware, building and garden supplies retailing (6.6%).

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Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing fell 53.6% in April 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Clothing retailing (-56.0%), and Footwear and other personal accessory retailing (-49.3%).

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Department stores

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Department stores fell 14.9% in April 2020.

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Other retailing

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Other retailing fell 14.4% in April 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry goods retailing (-28.3%), Other retailing n.e.c. (-2.9%), Other recreational goods retailing (-4.7%), and Newspaper and book retailing (-11.2%).

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Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services

In current prices, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell 35.4% in April 2020. By industry subgroup, the seasonally adjusted estimate fell for Cafes, restaurants and catering services (-52.6%), and Takeaway food services (-16.8%).

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Online retailing

In current prices, the original estimate for online sales rose to $2,703m, making up 11.1% of total retail sales. In March 2020, online retailing made up 7.1% of total retail sales.

In original terms, online sales rose 26.4% in April, following a rise of 23.5% in March 2020. Rises were seen in the online sales of both pure-play and multichannel retailers.

Additional experimental analysis has been undertaken on online sales by splitting sales into Food Industries (including Food retailing and Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services) and Non-food industries (including Household goods retailing, Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, Department stores, and Other retailing). This analysis shows that the proportion of total sales made online rose moderately in Food industries, from 3.1% in March to 4.1% in April. The rise was much larger in Non-food industries, which rose from 13.0% in March to 20.5% in April.

This likely reflects the impacts of regulations regarding social distancing impacting the ability of physical stores to trade during April.

Supplementary COVID-19 analysis

Supermarkets and grocery stores retail turnover

To enhance the understanding of the economic impacts of COVID-19, scanner data was used to conduct analysis on supermarkets and grocery store spending.

For the purpose of this analysis, supermarket products were split into three categories. Perishable Goods contain fresh food items such as fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy. Non-Perishable Goods contain food items with a long shelf life such as flour, sugar, canned fruit, canned vegetables, canned and dry mix soups, confectionary and long-life milk products. All Other Products contain non-food items such as cleaning products, medicinal products, toiletries and toilet paper.

Retail turnover fell for Non-Perishable Goods (-23.7%), Perishable Goods (-15.3%) and All Other Products (-24.5%) in April 2020 compared to March 2020, in original terms. These falls follow significant rises in March 2020 for Non-perishable goods (39.0%), Perishable goods (21.6%), and All other products (30.5%).

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Despite the month-on-month falls, retail turnover for all three categories remains at higher levels when compared to April 2019. Annually Perishable Goods rose 8.8%, Non-Perishable Goods 5.1%, and All Other Products rose 2.3%.

On average, Perishable Goods make up approximately 40% of total supermarket turnover each month, whilst Non-Perishable Goods make up 35% and All Other Products make up 25%.

Product categories of interest

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Falls were observed for product categories that had substantial rises in March 2020, with the largest monthly falls in categories that had risen significantly in March. Falls were led by canned meat and seafood (-56%), pasta and rice (-52.4%), and canned and dry soup mix (-48.4%). Toilet paper and other paper products were down 43.5%.

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While there were falls compared to the previous month, on an annual basis the majority of the above product categories rose. The results compared to 2019 indicate that social distancing measures led to an increase in food being consumed at home. While many food categories are up on April 2019, spending at cafes and restaurants saw large falls in both March and April 2020.

In contrast, spending on seasonal Easter goods, canned meat and seafood, and medicinal products was less than in April 2019. While the annual falls in canned meat and seafood, and medicinal products was likely due to stronger sales in the March month, the falls on seasonal Easter goods compared to April 2019 indicates that social distancing impacted the way in which households celebrated the Easter long weekend.

Data downloads

Table 1. Retail turnover, by industry group

Table 2. Retail turnover, by industry group - percentage change from previous month

Table 3. Retail turnover, by state

Table 4. Retail turnover, by state - percentage change from previous month

Table 5. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, volume and price, seasonally adjusted - by industry group

Table 6. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, volume and price, seasonally adjusted - by state

Table 7. Quarterly retail turnover, chain volume measures - by industry group

Table 8. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, chain volume measures - by industry group

Table 9. Quarterly retail turnover, chain volume measures - by state

Table 10. Quarterly retail turnover percentage change, chain volume measures - by state

Table 11. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, original

Table 12. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, seasonally adjusted

Table 13. Retail turnover, state by industry subgroup, trend

Table 14. Retail turnover; completely enumerated (large) and sample (small), by industry group

Table 15. Retail turnover; completely enumerated (large) and sample (small), by state

Table 16. Retail turnover, completely enumerated sector: Australia

Table 17. Quarterly consumer sales, Australia, by type of activity

Table 18. Quarterly consumer sales, Australia, by type of activity - percentage change from previous quarter

Table 19. Quarterly retail turnover per capita, Australia, all series

Table 20. Quarterly retail turnover per capita, Australia, all series - percentage change from previous quarter

All time series spreadsheets