Retail sales flat in April

29 May 2023

Australian retail turnover was unchanged (0.0 per cent) in April 2023, according to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

This follows a 0.4 per cent rise in March 2023 and 0.2 per cent rise in February 2023.

Ben Dorber, ABS head of retail statistics, said the slowdown in retail spending seen since the start of the year has continued in April.

“Retail turnover has plateaued over the last six months as consumers spent less on discretionary goods in response to cost-of-living pressures and rising interest rates. Spending was again soft in April but was boosted by increased spending on winter clothing in response to cooler and wetter than average weather across the country,” Mr Dorber said.

Clothing, footwear, and personal accessory retailing (+1.9 per cent) and departments stores (+1.5 per cent) were the only retail categories to rise in April.

Households goods retailing (-1.0 per cent) recorded its third straight monthly fall in turnover, while other retailing remained unchanged.

Food-related spending was down this month, with falls in both cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.2 per cent) and food retailing (-0.1 per cent). Food retailing recorded its first fall following 13 straight monthly rises.

“The modest fall in food-related spending comes after a period of consistent growth driven largely by high food inflation,” Mr Dorber said.

“Spending at cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services remains at a particularly high level despite the fall in April, with turnover up 13.3 per cent compared to this time last year.”

“Spending has also been boosted by the return of large-scale sporting and cultural events.”

There were mixed results across the states and territories with four falls and three rises, while the Northern Territory remained unchanged.

Tasmania (-1.5 per cent) recorded the largest drop, followed by falls in New South Wales, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory. The largest rise was recorded in Western Australia (+1.0 per cent) followed by smaller rises in South Australia and Queensland.

“Turnover is at a record level in South Australia following three straight rises of 0.6 per cent and boosted by the inaugural AFL Gather Round and LIV Golf Adelaide tournament this month,” Mr Dorber said.