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Retail Trade, Australia

Monthly and quarterly estimates of turnover and volumes for retail businesses, including store and online sales.

Reference period
December 2021
Released
1/02/2022

Key statistics

The December 2021 seasonally adjusted estimate: 

  • Fell 4.4% month-on-month.
  • Rose 4.8% compared with December 2020.
  • In volume terms, the seasonally adjusted estimate rose 8.2% in the December quarter 2021.

An additional information release on 7 February 2022 has seen the inclusion of more detailed results for the December 2021 reference period. Additional timeseries spreadsheets have been published, including; state by industry results, state by industry sub-group results, December quarter 2021 turnover volumes, and online sales.

To understand more about changes in this issue, suspension of trend estimates, and COVID-19 in December 2021, please read the survey impacts and changes.

Turnover at current prices
Dec-2021 ($m)Nov-2021 to Dec-2021 (% change)Dec-2020 to Dec-2021 (% change)
Trendnanana
Seasonally adjusted31,926.3-4.44.8

na not available

Turnover in volume terms
December Qtr 2021 ($m)September Qtr 2021 to December Qtr 2021 (% change)December Qtr 2020 to December Qtr 2021 (% change)
Trendnanana
Seasonally adjusted92,327.58.23.6

na not available

Total retail turnover

Analysis by industry

Food retailing

Food retailing rose 2.2% ($283.8m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Household goods retailing

Household goods retailing fell 9.2% (-$589.4m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing fell 17.3% (-$531.2m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Department stores

Department stores fell 21.3% (-$408.2m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Other retailing

Other retailing fell 4.0% (-$212.1m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services fell 0.7% (-$28.2m) in December, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Online Retailing

Total online retailing sales were $3,607.3m in December 2021, in seasonally adjusted terms. Seasonally adjusted online sales fell 4.9% (-$186.7m) in December, the third straight monthly fall following the series recording its highest level on record, and just prior to lockdowns ending in October. In seasonally adjusted terms, total online retailing is up 20.5% ($614.6m) through the year.

In December 2021, Food online sales were $1,062.2m, and Non-Food online sales were $2545.1m, in seasonally adjusted terms. Non-Food sales drove the fall in December's total online sales, falling 9.6% (-$270.0m) as discretionary online spending continued to unwind from record levels seen during lockdowns. Food sales offset the fall, rising 8.5% ($83.3m) amid the emergence of a new COVID variant.

In original terms, the proportion of online sales for Food retailing was 5.4% in December 2021, down from 5.9% in November 2021. The portion of Food sales made online continues to remain high, particular compared to pre-pandemic months. The proportion of online sales for Non-Food retailing was 15.4% in December 2021, down from 18.7% last month. Like Food, the portion of Non-Food sales made online remains elevated despite the fall.

In original terms, the proportion of online sales to total retailing was 10.5% in December 2021, down from 12.5% last month.

Additional notes regarding the online sales series can be found in the Methodology.

Data downloads

Tables 5 through to 23 have been made available on 7 February 2022. This includes December quarterly retail turnover contained in Tables 5 through to 10. Tables 1 through to 4 remain unchanged from their release on 1 February 2022.

Time series spreadsheets

Data files

Data Explorer datasets

The data available in Data Explorer is similar to ABS.Stat but with a new interface and added functionality.
For more information about Data Explorer and to see what's changed, see the Data Explorer user guide.

Caution: Data in Data Explorer is currently released after the 11:30am release on the ABS website. Please check the reference period when using Data Explorer.

Retail Trade, Key Statistics - Monthly retail trade estimates for Australian businesses classified by industry group, or by state and territory.

Retail Trade  - Monthly and quarterly retail trade turnover estimates for Australian businesses classified by industry group, sub group, and by state and territory.

Survey impacts and changes

The revised release schedule for Retail Trade, Australia

The ABS ceased the publication of Retail Trade, Australia, Preliminary (8501.0.55.008) following the June 2021 reference period.  Retail Trade, Australia (8501.0) has moved to a new release schedule to better accommodate data users’ needs.

Key statistics from Retail Trade, Australia are now released 20 working days following the end of the reference period. The full suite of statistics to be made available in an “Additional Information” release four business days later. 

This replaces the former release schedule where all time series spreadsheets were released approximately 24 working days following the end of the reference period.

Timing and availability of time series spreadsheets from July 2021 reference period onwards:

 
ReleaseTimingTablesContent
Main Release (i.e. key statistics)20 working days following the end of the reference period1 - 4 Monthly National Turnover
   Monthly Industry Turnover
   Monthly State Turnover
Additional Tables4 working days following the main release5 - 23Monthly State by Industry Turnover
   Monthly Sub-Group Turnover
   Monthly State by Sub-Group Turnover
   Quarterly Volumes and other quarterly statistics
   Online Sales

 

There are no changes to the availability of data for this publication.  Time series spreadsheet numbering and names, as well as Series IDs remain the same as previously published.

Both of the monthly releases will be based on the same source data. No additional data collection activity will occur between these times.

The ABS will continue to quality assure data between both releases. Revisions to the key statistics anticipated to be rare.

Dates for future releases are available under ‘Future releases’ from the top of this page. There are two advertised dates for each reference period. The earliest date refers to the release of Tables 1 through to 4. The later date indicates when the additional tables (5 through to 23) will be made available.

Changes in this issue

There are no revisions to the original estimates.

Suspension of trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in retail activity. During the Coronavirus pandemic, this measurement will be significantly affected by changes to regular patterns in retail spending that will occur. If the trend estimates in this publication were to be calculated without fully accounting for irregular events, they would likely provide a misleading view of underlying retail activity.

The retail trend series was therefore suspended from February 2020. It is now published only to June 2019. The trend series will be reinstated when more certainty emerges in the underlying trend in retail.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) in December

The World Health Organisation identified COVID-19 as an international health emergency on 30 January 2020.

In March 2020, nationwide regulations were introduced to encourage physical distancing which impacted the ability of businesses to trade as normal. Movement across state borders were also restricted.

Following May 2020, regulations have been implemented on a local basis in response to increased case numbers.

In March 2021, the Greater Brisbane region in Queensland saw restrictions reintroduced on 29 March. The restrictions were extended until the end of the month and ended on 1 April.

In April 2021, Perth and some regional areas of Western Australia had restrictions in place from 24 April through to 26 April.

In May 2021, Victoria was under lockdown restrictions from 28 May. These remained in place until June.

In June 2021, there were restrictions across multiple states and territories, including:

  • Victoria - restrictions introduced in May remained in place for the first three days of June in regional Victoria, and the first ten days of the month in Melbourne. Restrictions such as mask wearing in all public indoor settings (such as retail and workplaces), remained in place for the rest of June.
  • New South Wales - on June 26, stay-at-home orders were introduced across Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong. Some Eastern Sydney local government areas saw restrictions introduced a day earlier than the rest of Greater Sydney.
  • Northern Territory - lockdown restrictions were introduced from 1pm, 27 June.  This initially applied to Darwin and surrounds, however, restrictions were expanded to Alice Springs on the last day of the month. Restrictions remained in effect until early July.
  • Western Australia - lockdown restrictions for Perth and surrounds were introduced 29 June. Restrictions remained in effect until early July.
  • Queensland - lockdown restrictions for South-East Queensland and Townsville were introduced at 6pm, 29 June. Restrictions remained in place until early July.

In July 2021, restrictions continued to impact multiple states and territories, including:

  • New South Wales - for the entire month, the Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong regions remained under stay-at-home. Non-essential retail was closed from 18 July onwards.
  • Northern Territory - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 2 July.
  • Western Australia - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 2 July.
  • Queensland - restrictions introduced in June remained in effect until 3 July. Some restrictions for non-essential retail continued past this date. The state re-entered lockdown at 4pm on the last day of the month.
  • Victoria - lockdown restrictions were introduced at 11:59pm, 15 July and were in place until 11:59pm 27 July.  Some restrictions, such as mask wearing in workplaces and offices, had been eased from 9 July until 15 July.
  • South Australia - lockdown restrictions were in place from 6pm, 20 July through to 6pm, 27 July.

In August 2021, the following states and territories were impacted by restrictions:

  • New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Over the first half of August various regional cities and townships within New South Wales were sent into snap 7 day lockdowns. These lockdowns were extended, and a state wide regional lockdown commenced at 5pm 14 August, lasting into the following month. From 23 August, garden centres, office supply and hardware supply businesses within Sydney's "Local Government Areas of Concern" were restricted to click and collect shopping, as well as wholesale trade.
  • Queensland - South East Queensland was under stay-at-home orders for the first 8 days of the month. Cairns was under lockdown restrictions from 8 August through to 11 August.
  • Victoria - restrictions were reintroduced in Melbourne at 8pm 5 August, and remained in effect for the remainder of the month. Regional Victoria went into lockdown from 8pm 5 August until 11:59pm 9 August. A second regional lockdown commenced at 1pm 21 August and was in place for the remainder of the month.
  • Australian Capital Territory - restrictions were introduced at 4pm 12 August. This was the first lockdown for the territory since nationwide restrictions in 2020. The territory remained in lockdown for the remainder of the month. From 28 August non-essential small retailers were able to operate click and collect. 
  • Northern Territory - Greater Darwin was under lockdown restrictions from midday 16 August through to midday 19 August. Katherine spent an extra 24 hours in lockdown.

In September 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:

  • New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Some regional areas came out of lockdown on 11 September. A number of regional areas came out of lockdown, or returned to snap lockdowns as the month progressed. 
  • Victoria - Melbourne remained under stay-at-home orders for the entire month. Most regional areas were under restrictions from the prior month until 11:59pm 9 September.  Some parts of regional Victoria returned to lockdowns as the month progressed.
  • Australian Capital Territory - stay-at-home orders were in place for the entire month.

In October 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:

  • New South Wales - Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, and the Central Coast remained under stay-at-home orders until 11 October. A number of regional areas that were also subject to stay-at-home orders early in the month also saw the end of these restrictions on 11 October.  While the lockdown was lifted there were still considerable restrictions in place across the state for the remainder of the month. These restrictions included density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes which were eased further on 18 October.
  • Australian Capital Territory - stay-at-home orders were lifted at 11:59pm 14 October. Significant restrictions remained in place after this date. Non-essential retail was limited to click and collect for the first week after lockdown lifted, and there were density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes.
  • Victoria - lockdown on Greater Melbourne ended at 11:59pm 21 October. Significant restrictions remained in place after this date. Some non-essential retail were required to operate in outdoor settings. and there there were density limits for hospitality venues and limits on visitors to homes. These restrictions were eased further on 29 October. 
  • Tasmania - the southern part of the state, including Hobart, saw a three day lockdown mid-month.

In November 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:

  • Northern Territory - the Greater Darwin and Greater Katherine regions entered into lockout and lockdown restrictions at 12:01am 5 November. Under lockout, fully vaccinated people could continue life as normal wearing a mask, while the unvaccinated were subject to full lockdown and only permitted to leave home for five essential reasons: medical care, access essential goods/services, perform essential work, exercise and/or provide care/support. Darwin's lockout was lifted at 11:59pm 9 November. Katherine transitioned to a lockout on 7 November that lifted at 5pm on 8 November. The Katherine region was again placed into lockdown from 6pm 15 November with a number of regional areas entering into either lockdown or lockouts as the month progressed. 

  • New South Wales - travel between Greater Sydney and regional New South Wales allowed from 8 November for fully vaccinated people, while hospitality density restrictions moved to the 1 person per 2 square metre rule from 8 November.

  • Victoria - at 11:59pm 18 November, Victoria moved to Phase D of their reopening plan, after reaching more than 90 per cent of their 12 year old and older population being fully vaccinated.  Capacity and gathering limits for fully vaccinated adults were removed.

  • Australian Capital Territory - from 1 November, vaccinated people from New South Wales and Victoria were able to enter without quarantine, while the unvaccinated required a permit. From 12 November, density limits of 1 person per 2 square metre applied for hospitality with restrictions eased for cinemas, swimming pools, indoor and outdoor entertainment venues with fixed seating and nightclubs re-opening.

In December 2021, the following states and territories were directly impacted by restrictions:

  • Northern Territory - the Binjari region transitioned from lockdown to lockout restrictions at midday 7 December, ending 24 hours later. Tennant Creek entered into lockdown on 17 December, which transitioned to a lockout on 23 December. On 19 December Ali Curung entered lockdown which ended on 23 December. Multiple regions were impacted by lockout restrictions including the Greater Katherine and Rockhole regions, Lajamanu, Kalkarindji, Daguragu, Timber Creek and Gilwi regions.

  • New South Wales - restrictions on unvaccinated adults were lifted on 15 December, with density limits removed, masks no longer needed indoors, and QR code check-ins only required for high risk settings. However, mask mandates for indoor settings were reintroduced on 23 December, and QR codes made mandatory for supermarkets, shops and hospitality venues. On 27 December, density limits of 1 person per 2 square metres were reintroduced for hospitality venues.

  • Victoria - from 11:59pm 23 December mandatory masks indoors for people aged over eight years old were reintroduced, except for homes.

  • Queensland - from 1am 13 December, the Queensland borders re-opened for interstate and international travellers subject to strict vaccination, testing and quarantine conditions depending on travel category. As at 5am 17 December, specific businesses able to trade at 100 per cent capacity for the fully vaccinated, including retail specific businesses such as cafés and restaurants. 

  • South Australia - Level 1 restrictions were reintroduced at 12pm 26 December including a wide range of density restrictions by business setting.

  • Western Australia - from 6pm 23 December mandatory mask wearing restrictions for the Perth-Peel region reintroduced for all public indoor settings; certain high-risk large-scale events were cancelled, and nightclubs closed.

  • Tasmania - borders re-opened to vaccinated travellers on 15 December subject to conditions.

  • Australian Capital Territory - indoor mask mandate reintroduced on 21 December for all indoor settings including retail and hospitality venues.

Differences between Retail Trade and Monthly Business Turnover Indicator

The ABS first released the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator on Friday 15 October 2021. The first in a series of new monthly economic indicators which includes an indicator for Retail Trade.

This experimental indicator is derived from Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Business Activity Statements (BAS) turnover data from monthly BAS remitters. This differs from Retail Trade, Australia in terms of scope and coverage. Monthly BAS reporting for the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator covers businesses with GST annual turnover of $20 million or more and a proportion of smaller businesses that report monthly on a voluntary basis. The turnover estimates in Retail Trade, Australia are compiled from the monthly Retail Business Survey. About 700 'large' businesses are included in the survey every month, while a sample of about 2,700 'smaller' businesses is selected. The 'large' business' contribution of approximately 69% of the total estimate ensures a highly reliable Australian total turnover estimate.

Retail Trade for the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator is aligned strictly to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006. This includes Fuel and motor vehicle retailing but excludes Cafes, restaurants and takeaways. Retail Trade, Australia does include Cafes, restaurants and takeaways, but does not include Fuel and motor vehicle retailing.

For further information see Monthly Business Turnover Indicator, Methodology.

Post release changes

7/01/2022 - As advertised in the main release of this publication on 1 February 2022, the time series spreadsheets for tables 5 through to 23 are now available under the Data Downloads section. This includes:

  • December monthly results for State by Industry Subgroup, Completely Enumerated (large) and Sample (small) businesses, and Online Retail Turnover.
  • December quarter 2021 results, available in tables 5 through to 10.

In addition, December quarter results and an online retailing section has been added to this publication, which shows the most up-to-date online retail sales.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8501.0.

Inquiries

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