Apparel and groceries drive December retail sales growth

Australian retail sales increased 1.7% in December compared to the same time last year, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

Most retail categories continued to show sales growth year on year. Apparel (up 6.7%) and Groceries (up 6.6%) reported the biggest increase in trade in December. Lodging also saw gains (up 4.1%), followed by Electronics (up 3.5%). There were year-on-year falls for Home Furnishings (down 2.4%) and Fuel and Convenience (down 4.1%).

It comes after Christmas came early for retailers in the bumper Black Friday trade, with a range of sales and deals encouraging shoppers to buy ahead.

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra welcomed the results.

“Achieving spending growth in December, during the peak of Australia’s shopping activity, is encouraging for retailers – especially in a period of economic uncertainty.”

“Home Furnishings and Fuel and Convenience were down on the previous year, due to a higher sales base last year, as these sectors had record growth last year due to the lockdowns ending.

“The growth in apparel sales is particularly outstanding due to the unseasonal cool Summer. Gross margins, however, may have been impacted as retailers worked to clear current inventory.”

“These December results are a testament to the resilience of the retail industry and set a good foundation as we anticipate a period of uncertainty in 2023, with inflationary pressures and the rising cost-of-living.”

“We’re aware that it will be a challenging environment for businesses, particularly small businesses on tighter margins, as they continue to battle rising operating costs associated with fuel, energy, labour, supply chains and rent,” Mr Zahra said.

Mr Zahra flagged that inflation has also played a factor in the increased sales numbers.

Mastercard SpendingPulse December 2022

  December 2022 vs December 2021 (Year on Year) December 2022 vs December 2019 (3 years ago – pre-pandemic)
Apparel +6.7% +8.1%
Electronics +3.5% +2.7%
Fuel and Convenience -4.1% +2.1%
Groceries +6.6% +25.1%
Home Furnishings -2.4% +18.6%
Jewellery +2.0% +17.5%
Lodging +4.1% -8.4%
Restaurants +1.8% +6.4%




Media Enquiries:

M 0434 381 670


About us: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is the oldest, largest and most diverse national retail body, representing a $400 billion sector that employs 1.3 million Australians and is the largest private sector employer in the country. As Australia’s peak retail body, representing more than 120,000 retail shop fronts and online stores, the ARA informs, advocates, educates, protects and unifies our independent, national and international retail community. To learn more about ARA’s exclusive member benefits and more, visit




Australian Retailers Association commits to supporting reconciliation and constitutional recognition of First Nations people

To mark National Reconciliation Week, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has released a Position Statement outlining its commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.   The statement also affirms the ARA’s support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart, including the establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament, enshrined

Read More »

April retail sales record 4.2 percent year-on-year growth 

As discretionary consumer spending continues to slow, retail sales recorded 4.2% year-on-year growth in April, bolstered by cafes, restaurants and takeaway. According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), shoppers spent more than $35.2 billion across the country in April. The most significant year-on-year sales increases

Read More »