Retail Trade, Australia

Latest release

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

Reference period
January 2024
Released
29/02/2024
  • Next Release 6/03/2024
    Retail Trade, Australia, January 2024
  • Next Release 28/03/2024
    Retail Trade, Australia, February 2024
  • Next Release 5/04/2024
    Retail Trade, Australia, February 2024
  • View all releases

Key statistics

The January 2024 seasonally adjusted estimate: 

  • Rose 1.1% month-on-month.
  • Rose 1.1% compared with January 2023.

An additional release on 6 March 2024 will see the inclusion of more detailed results for the January 2024 reference period. Additional timeseries spreadsheets will be published, including; state by industry results, state by industry sub-group results, previously published December quarter 2023 turnover volumes, and online sales.

Turnover at current prices
Jan-2024 ($m)Dec-2023 to Jan-2024 (% change)Jan-2023 to Jan-2024 (% change)
Trend35,736.00.01.3
Seasonally adjusted35,723.91.11.1

Total retail turnover

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Analysis by industry

Food retailing

Food retailing fell 0.1% (-$10.4m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Household goods retailing

Household goods retailing rose 2.3% ($127.3m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing rose 2.4% ($69.3m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Department stores

Department stores rose 1.7% ($31.9m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Other retailing

Other retailing rose 1.7% ($89.9m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services rose 1.3% ($67.5m) in January, in seasonally adjusted terms.

Trend estimates from March 2020 to June 2022 are not available due to the degree of disruption and volatility caused by COVID-19. Trend estimates throughout the pandemic period are likely to be unhelpful and potentially misleading for users in interpreting underlying trend in retail activity.

Data downloads

Tables 1 to 4 have been released on 29 February 2024. Tables 5 through to 23 will be released on 6 March 2024. 

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

Future cessation of the Retail Business Survey and Retail Trade Publication

The ABS intends to cease the Retail Business Survey and Retail Trade Publication to balance organisational priorities of producing timely statistics using new data sources and reducing the burden ABS surveys place on the business community. Retail Trade statistics are often used as an early indicator of household consumption. However, retail trade has been declining as a proportion of total household consumption. Retail Trade coverage has fallen from 56.2% of household consumption in 1959-60 to 33.2% in 2022-23.

The last release of the Retail Trade Publication is expected to be in August 2025, referencing the June 2025 period.

Users will be able to access more comprehensive monthly data on household consumption from the ABS’ Monthly Household Spending Indicator (MHSI). This indicator provides an early read on household spending, covering around 68% of household consumption, compared to the 33% covered by the Retail Trade data. Alongside the MHSI, the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator (MBTI) also provides a frequent and timely indicator of economic activity in important parts of the economy. Both indicators make use of administrative data from the private and public sectors, reducing burden on businesses while continuing to produce important economic indicators.

The ABS will be working with data users to enhance the MHSI and MBTI to make sure these indicators provide the information users need before Retail Trade, Australia ceases in August 2025. More Information about this transition can be found on the Future cessation of the Retail Business Survey and Retail Trade Publication webpage or through contacting us at household.spending@abs.gov.au.

Seasonality in retail turnover

As noted in the Changes in the seasonality of Retail Turnover article published in November, concurrent seasonal adjustment uses the most recent data available to measure seasonality and create seasonal factors. The addition of the new data point for the January month has led to larger than usual revisions to seasonally adjusted data, particularly in the surrounding months of November and December. 

These revisions, due to the concurrent methodology, reflect the improvements in the data as the seasonal pattern around Black Friday sales and impacts on spending in surrounding months becomes clearer and distinct from irregular events, such as COVID-19 lockdowns in previous years.

Changes in this issue

There are no revisions to the original estimates.

Revisions to seasonally adjusted estimates are larger than usual as noted above. These revisions reflect improvements in the seasonal adjusted series and the concurrent methodology for deriving seasonal factors. For information on seasonal adjustment please refer to the explanatory notes of this publication.

Trend series

The trend series attempts to measure underlying behaviour in retail activity.

During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the trend series was significantly affected by large changes to regular patterns in retail spending. Trend estimates for all series from March 2020 to June 2022 will not be published. The degree of disruption caused by COVID-19 on Retail turnover during this span means that trend estimates are likely to be unhelpful and may be misleading for users throughout the pandemic period. 

While seasonally adjusted estimates are the headline measure for retail activity, it is recommended that the trend series be used alongside the seasonally adjusted series to analyse and understand underlying activity in retail spending over the longer term.

Estimates of the trend will be improved at the current end of the time series as additional observations become available. This improvement is due to the application of different asymmetric moving averages for the most recent six months for monthly series and three quarters for quarterly series. As a result of the improvement, most revisions to the trend estimates will be observed in the most recent six months or three quarters.

For further information on trend estimation, please refer to the seasonal adjustment and trend estimation methodology of this publication.

Differences between Retail Trade and other Economic Indicators

Monthly Household Spending Indicator

The ABS first released the Monthly Household Spending Indicator on Tuesday 22 February 2022. Enhancements to the Monthly Household Spending Indicator (MHSI) will enable the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to cease publication of Retail Trade, Australia in August 2025, providing users with a more comprehensive view on household consumption.

The Monthly Household Spending Indicator is derived using aggregated, de-identified banks transactions data from some of Australia’s banking and financial institutions.

The ABS transforms the banks transactions data in order to derive the Monthly Household Spending Indicator. As this data is not designed for statistical purposes, its scope varies from Australian National Accounts concept of household final consumption expenditure (HFCE) and the Retail Trade turnover estimates for retail businesses.

The primary difference between the Retail Trade Survey and the household spending indicator is scope. The Retail Trade Survey focuses on measuring turnover, from sole traders and businesses across the Retail industry that predominantly sell to households. The Household spending indicator is recorded at the point of transaction on goods and services across all relevant industries, not just retail, to track a broader range of consumer spending.

For more information on how the Retail Trade Survey and new experimental monthly household spending indicator differ please see Comparison with Retail Trade and Monthly Household Spending Indicator, Methodology.

Monthly Business Turnover Indicator

The ABS first released the Monthly Business Turnover Indicator on Friday 15 October 2021 and 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.

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 8501.0.

Enquiries

For enquiries about these and related statistics, contact the Customer Assistance Service via the ABS website Contact Us page. The ABS Privacy Policy outlines how the ABS will handle any personal information that you provide to us.

Methodology

Scope

This publication presents estimates of the value of turnover of retail trade for Australian businesses. This includes all employing retail trade businesses who predominantly sell to households.

Geography

Data is available for:

  • Australia Total
  • States and territories.

Source

Retail Business Survey

Collection method

The survey includes about 700 large businesses and 2,700 smaller businesses selected by random sample.

The survey is conducted monthly primarily by telephone interview. A small number of questionnaires are mailed.

Concepts, sources and methods

Turnover includes:

  • retail sales
  • online sales
  • wholesale sales
  • takings from repairs, meals & hiring of goods
  • commissions from agency activity

Businesses are classified in terms of the retail industry group and subgroup it mainly operates in.

History of changes

GST was included in turnover from 2000.

View full methodology
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