February key figures
|February 2020||January 2020 to February 2020|
|Turnover at current prices|
["","Monthly","Through the year"]
February key points
- Due to the impacts of COVID-19 on retail trade, the trend series has been suspended from February 2020.
- The seasonally adjusted estimate rose 0.5% in February 2020. This follows a fall of 0.3% in January 2020, and a fall of 0.6% in December 2019.
- The following industries rose in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020: Food retailing (0.8%), Department stores (3.1%), Household goods retailing (0.7%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2%), and Other retailing (0.2%). Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-2.9%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020.
- The following states and territories rose in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020: Queensland (0.8%), Victoria (0.5%), Western Australia (1.2%), South Australia (0.4%), and the Australian Capital Territory (1.1%). Tasmania (0.0%) and New South Wales (0.0%) were relatively unchanged. The Northern Territory (-0.7%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020.
Impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in February
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.
COVID-19 did not impact data collection activities for the February 2020 reference month. Individual retail businesses reported a range of impacts attributed to COVID-19:
- Select businesses, especially in the Supermarket and grocery stores and Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry goods retailing subgroups, saw an increase in turnover related to the virus. As part of the ABS commitment to understand the economic impact of COVID-19, the ABS has used scanner data to conduct analysis on Supermarket and grocery store spending by Australian households. The analysis shows that retail turnover for discretionary and non-discretionary grocery spending increased by 6.1% and 9.4% respectively in February 2020 compared to February 2019. Further information is included in the Analysis by Industry section.
- Some businesses, especially those reliant on tourism, reported adverse impacts to turnover.
- Other businesses saw little impact in February from COVID-19 but expect significant impacts in the March reference month, as restrictions on trading were increased.
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 unusual 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.
Changes in this issue
There are no revisions to the original estimates. Revisions to seasonally adjusted estimates are due to the concurrent methodology for deriving seasonal factors.
This issue includes updated online retail turnover estimates for the February 2020 reference month. The estimates are provided and explained in the appendix section of this publication.
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.