Retail sales rebound to rise 1.8% in January

28 February 2022

Australian retail turnover rose 1.8 per cent in January 2022, seasonally adjusted, according to the Retail Trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

The January result follows a fall of 4.4 per cent in December 2021, after consecutive rises of 7.3 per cent in November 2021 and 4.9 per cent in October 2021.

Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Statistics, Ben James said the 1.8 per cent rise continues to add strength to the post Delta lockdown retail recovery with sales at the second highest level in the series.

“The emergence of the Omicron variant and rising COVID-19 case numbers, combined with an absence of mandated lockdowns has resulted in a range of different consumer behaviours. We have seen the type of spending previously associated with lockdowns occurring simultaneously with those associated with the easing of lockdown conditions,” Mr James said.

“This had led to variations across the industries with Food retailing recording a rise in sales consistent with previous COVID-19 outbreaks as consumers exercise caution amidst surging case numbers.

“However, the absence of lockdowns meant that other discretionary industries which would usually see a fall during the pandemic have recorded mixed results.”

Food retailing had the largest rise in sales this month up 2.2 per cent which is the largest monthly rise since July 2021 with sales remaining elevated at their fourth highest level in the series. This went alongside a 0.8 per cent fall in cafes, restaurants, and takeaway food services as some consumers opted to stay home.

Other industries which saw rises this month include other retailing (4.5 per cent), department stores (4.9 per cent) and household goods retailing (0.6 per cent), while clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing fell 1.0 per cent as the only other industry to fall.

With tightening restrictions favoured over lockdowns during the latest COVID-19 wave, sales across the states and territories all rose this month with Victoria, up 2.5 per cent experiencing the largest rise, followed by Western Australia (4.7 per cent), New South Wales (1.0 per cent), South Australia (3.1 per cent) and Queensland (0.4 per cent).