Modest Growth in Australian Retail

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Sydney, Sept 28: Seasonally adjusted figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal a slight 0.2 percent increase in Australian retail turnover for August 2023. This follows a 0.5 percent rise in July 2023 and a notable 0.8 percent decline in June 2023.
Ben Dorber, the ABS head of retail statistics, commented on the findings, stating, “The modest rise in August indicates that consumers are maintaining restraint in their retail spending.”
In terms of trend analysis, retail turnover experienced a meager 0.1 percent increase, with only a 1.3 percent rise compared to August 2022. This marks the smallest trend growth over a 12-month period in the history of the data series.
Dorber noted, “Considering the impact of high inflation and robust population growth on retail turnover over the past year, the historically low trend growth underscores the extent to which consumers are scaling back their spending due to cost-of-living pressures.”
In terms of specific sectors, the following increases were recorded:

  • Clothing, Footwear, and Personal Accessories Retailing: This sector saw the most significant rise, with a 1.3 percent increase.
  • Cafes, Restaurants, and Takeaway Food Services: This category experienced a 0.7 percent rise.
  • Other Retailing: Another sector that increased by 0.7 percent.
  • Department Stores: This sector saw a 0.4 percent rise.

Dorber explained, “Warmer than usual weather and promotional activities tied to events like Afterpay Day boosted spending on discretionary goods, particularly in clothing, footwear, and personal accessories. Additionally, the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup generated strong demand for fan gear and increased spending in cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food outlets due to large crowds attending matches and live events across the country.”
However, household goods retailing experienced its third consecutive decline, with a 0.4 percent decrease, while food retailing fell by 0.3 percent. Dorber added, “Food retailing turnover has fallen for the second consecutive month, coinciding with the recent release of Monthly CPI data, which showed a continued easing of food inflation, particularly for fruit and vegetable prices.”
Retail turnover results varied across states and territories, with modest outcomes observed nationwide.
More detailed results, including state-by-industry breakdowns and online sales data, will be released on October 6, 2023, for the August reference period. The ABS expressed gratitude to businesses for their ongoing support in responding to their surveys.

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