February retail sales record 6.4% year-on-year growth

Retail sales have recorded 6.4% year-on-year growth in February 2023 – bolstered by cafes, restaurants and takeaway, and food categories.

According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), shoppers spent more than $35 billion across the country in February.

There were significant year-on-year sales increases for cafes, restaurants and takeaway (up 17.1%), food (up 7.9%), department stores (up 7.7%) and clothing, footwear and accessories (up 6.2%). Other retailing spending increased by 3.2% while household goods declined year-on-year by 2.3%.

ACT (up 9.2%) and Western Australia (up 8.7%) led the spending growth, followed by Tasmania (up 7.1%) and South Australia (up 7.1%). New South Wales (up 6.6%), and Victoria (up 6.1%) also recorded solid increases.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said sales growth in some essential categories like food is now close to neutral when inflation is taken into consideration however, other categories are performing well as people continue to enjoy their freedoms post pandemic.

“We’re certainly seeing the start of the spending slowdown as a result of the cost-of-living pinch gripping Australians, with household goods being the first discretionary category to continue to see a reduction in spend,” he said.

“Over the previous few months, spending growth has continued to gradually soften. We’re now at the point in essential categories like food where inflationary price increases are mostly driving retail spending growth.

“The categories to record strong spending growth were restaurants, cafes and takeaway, department stores and clothing, footwear and accessories – with the resurgence in getting out and about continuing to deliver solid results for this segment, which was heavily impacted previously by the pandemic,” said Mr Zahra.

Mr Zahra said it is a challenging environment for retailers, who are also managing rising costs, labour shortages and supply chain issues.

Australian Bureau of Statistics Retail Trade Data – February 2023

Household goods$5958m$5821m-2.3%
Clothing, footwear, accessories$2805m$2978m+6.2%
Department stores$1753m$1888m+7.7%
Cafes, restaurants, takeaway$4469m$5235m+17.1%
New South Wales$10436m$11125m+6.6%
South Australia$2103m$2253m+7.1%
Western Australia$3593m$3907m+8.7%
Northern Territory $297m$312m+5.1%

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