Small Increase in Australian Retail Volumes Ends Three Consecutive Quarterly Declines

Australian retail sales volumes experienced a modest increase of 0.2 per cent in the September quarter of 2023, according to seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, noted, “The small rise in retail sales volumes follows three quarterly falls in a row. Retail volumes fell by 0.6 per cent in the June quarter 2023, 0.7 per cent in the March quarter 2023, and 0.6 per cent in the December quarter 2022.”

The September increase was attributed to lower price growth for retail goods, unusually warm weather, and special events such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup. However, despite the rise, retail sales volumes remain down by 1.7 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.

“Volumes are lower despite a period of strong population growth. On a per capita basis, retail volumes are down 4.0 per cent compared to this time last year, the largest 12-month fall in the history of the series,” added Mr. Dorber.

Key Points:

  1. Per Capita Decline: Despite a period of robust population growth, retail volumes per capita have witnessed a significant 4.0 per cent decline compared to the same period last year.
  2. Historical Context: The current per capita decline represents the most substantial 12-month fall in the history of the series.
  3. Contributing Factors: The rise in September was influenced by lower price growth, favorable weather conditions, and special events, such as the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
  4. Comparison to Last Year: Retail sales volumes remain down by 1.7 per cent compared to the same quarter last year.
  5. Industry Impact: Non-food industries, such as department stores, household goods retailing, and clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing, drove the rise in retail sales volumes.
  6. Mixed Regional Results: While most states and territories reversed the previous quarter’s result, Tasmania recorded a second consecutive volume fall.
  7. Industry-Specific Impact: Food retailing fell by 0.3 per cent, while cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services rose by 0.4 per cent, boosted by spending related to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Mr. Dorber emphasized that despite the quarterly increase, sales volumes in many industries were still lower than those of the previous year. The ABS encourages businesses to refer to the detailed industry and state analysis in the Retail Trade, Australia report for more comprehensive information and statistical methodology details. The ABS expressed gratitude to businesses for their continued support in responding to their surveys.