November retail sales up 7.3 per cent to record level

11 January 2022

Australian retail turnover rose 7.3 per cent in November 2021, seasonally adjusted, according to the Retail Trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). 

This follows consecutive rises of 4.9 per cent in October 2021 and 1.3 per cent in September 2021 after a 1.7 per cent fall in August 2021.

Ben James, Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics, said the 7.3 per cent increase is the fourth strongest monthly rise in the series with retail sales now at their highest level ever recorded, up 5.8 per cent on the previous record set in November 2020.

“Further easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the South-Eastern states and territories has seen the retail industry recover all lost momentum caused by the Delta outbreak,” Mr James said. “Victoria recorded the largest state rise, up 20.0 per cent, reaching its highest level of the series. This follows the state’s lockdown ending in late October.”

“Continued easing of COVID-19 restrictions, including less strict density and capacity limits, in New South Wales (5.1 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory (19.2 per cent) led to rises in turnover to record levels.”

Aside from the Northern Territory, all remaining jurisdictions also recorded retail sales rises to record levels. Turnover in the Northern Territory fell 2.7 per cent as lockdown restrictions introduced throughout the month negatively impacted sales.

Discretionary spending continued to be strong in November, with five retail industries seeing rises for the second consecutive month.

Pent-up consumer demand combined with an extended November sales period saw record sales in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (38.2 per cent), household goods retailing (11.6 per cent), department stores (26.0 per cent) and other retailing (7.3 per cent). Consumers brought forward Christmas spending to take advantage of sales and minimise delivery and stock availability concerns ahead of the festive season.

Food retailing was the only industry to fall this month, down 2.5 per cent, continuing the post-lockdown pattern where food retailing, including supermarkets, liquor etc. falls, while cafes, restaurants, and takeaways rise (9.3 per cent) as households venture out again.