Australian Retail Turnover Edges Up by 0.2% in August 2023

Australian retail turnover experienced a modest increase of 0.2% in August 2023, as reported by seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). This follows a 0.5% rise in July 2023 and a 0.8% fall in June 2023.

Ben Dorber, Head of Retail Statistics at ABS, commented, “The modest rise in August indicates that consumers are continuing to exercise restraint in their retail spending.”

In trend terms, retail turnover saw a 0.1% increase, marking a minimal growth of only 1.3% compared to August 2022. This represents the smallest trend growth over 12 months in the history of the series.

Dorber further noted, “Considering how high inflation and strong population growth have contributed to retail turnover in the past year, the historically low trend growth highlights how much consumers have pulled back in response to cost-of-living pressures.”

Key Highlights:

  • Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing recorded the largest rise at 1.3%.
  • Cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services followed with a 0.7% increase.
  • Other retailing also increased by 0.7%, and department stores saw a 0.4% rise.
  • Household goods retailing recorded a third consecutive fall at -0.4%, and food retailing fell by 0.3%.

Dorber explained, “Warmer than usual weather and additional promotional activity linked to Afterpay Day lifted spending on discretionary goods, especially clothing, footwear, and personal accessories.”

He added, “Spending was also boosted by the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, with strong demand for fan gear and increased spending across cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food outlets as large crowds attended matches and live sites across the country.”

The ABS reported that retail turnover varied across states and territories, with modest results nationwide. More detailed results, including state-by-industry breakdowns and online sales data, will be released on October 6, 2023.