March key figures
|March 2020||February 2020 to March 2020|
|Turnover at current prices|
|Seasonally Adjusted||30 110.9||8.5|
na not available
|March Qtr 2020||December Qtr 2019 to March Qtr 2020|
|Turnover in volume terms|
|Seasonally Adjusted||80 721.2||0.7|
na not available
March 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 8.5% in March 2020. This follows a rise of 0.6% in February, and a fall of 0.4% in January 2020.
- The following industries rose in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020: Food retailing (24.1%), Other retailing (16.6%), and Household goods retailing (9.1%). Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-22.9%), Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-22.6%), and Department stores (-8.9%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020.
- The following states and territories rose in seasonally adjusted terms in March 2020: New South Wales (8.0%), Victoria (7.7%), Queensland (8.8%), Western Australia (9.9%), South Australia (9.4%), Tasmania (8.9%), the Australian Capital Territory (9.5%), and the Northern Territory (11.6%).
- In volume terms, the seasonally adjusted estimate for Australian turnover rose 0.7% in the March quarter 2020.
Changes in this issue
There are no revisions to the original estimates. This issue includes updated online retail turnover estimates for the March 2020 reference month and updated per capita turnover for the March quarter 2020. The estimates are provided and explained in the appendix section of this publication.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) in March
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. These restrictions were progressively increased until they applied to all non-residents. 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 March 2020 reference month. Individual retail businesses reported a number of impacts attributed to COVID-19.
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 will be 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.