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

Retail sales have recorded 4.2% year-on-year growth in May – bolstered by food, cafes, restaurants, and takeaway however, discretionary spending continues to soften.

According to figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), shoppers spent more than $35.5 billion across the country in May.

The most significant year-on-year sales increases were food spending (up 6.1%) and cafes, restaurants, and takeaway (up 12.7%).

Clothing, footwear, and accessories (up 4.0%), department stores (up 3.4%) and other retailing (up 2.2%) showed modest growth, attributed largely to cooler than average weather, and early promotional activity.

Household goods declined year-on-year by 4.4%, marking six months of negative sales growth.

All states and territories recorded growth year-on-year, led by ACT (up 9.0%) followed by South Australia (up 6.5%), Western Australia (up 5.7%), Northern Territory (up 5,2%), Victoria (up 4.7%), New South Wales (up 4.2%), Queensland (up 1.8%) and Tasmania (up 1.6%).

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said sales growth for essentials like food is largely attributable to inflationary price increases.

“Food, dining out and takeaway are still predominantly driving overall retail sales growth and unavoidable price increases are a significant factor for those businesses,” Mr Zahra said.

“We’ve now seen six months of spending decline on household goods, and we expect this will be a bellwether for most consumer spending in the months ahead.

“It’s important to remember that cost-of-living pressures typically have a lag effect on retail – which is why we’re seeing a gradual softening in spending.

“Clothing and department stores are still showing modest growth, but this is mostly driven by early promotional activity and cooler than average temperatures.”

Mr Zahra reiterated that cost-of-living pressures, and a cost-of-doing-business crisis, remains the greatest concern for retailers.

“While we’re seeing a softening in spending, retailers are simultaneously feeling the pressure from increasing operating costs across the board. We are now experiencing a collision between the cost-of-living crisis and a cost-of-doing business crisis”






MAY 2022 MAY 2023 CHANGE
Food $13.205 billion $14.004 billion +6.1%
Household goods $6.032 billion $5.764 billion -4.4%
Clothing, footwear, accessories $2.874 billion $2.990 billion +4.0%
Department stores $1.845 billion $1.907 billion +3.4%
Cafes, restaurants, takeaway $4.770 billion $5.375 billion +12.7%
Other $5.359 billion $5.481 billion +2.2%
Total $34.087 billion $35.524 billion +4.2%


New South Wales $10.716 billion $11.169 billion +4.2%
Victoria $8.748 billion $9.165 billion +4.7%
Queensland $7.106 billion $7.235 billion +1.8%
South Australia $2.153 billion $2.294 billion +6.5%
Western Australia $3.753 billion $3.968 billion +5.7%
Tasmania $684 million $695 million +1.6%
Northern Territory $304 million $320 million +5.2%
ACT $619 million $675 million +9.0%
Total $34.087 billion $35.524 billion +4.2%





Media Enquiries: 

M 0434 381 670






Retailers welcome Victoria’s new laws to protect retail staff

Australia’s peak retail body, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA), has welcomed the Victorian Government’s plans to introduce legislation to implement tougher penalties for people who assault or abuse retail workers. The landmark reforms, that plan to be introduced in 2025 to Parliament, will see Victoria join South Australia, New South

Read More »

Retailers rally behind First Responders Day – Thursday May 16

More than 60 Australian retailers, representing thousands of stores nationwide, will participate in First Responders Day tomorrow, Thursday 16 May, offering special deals as a thank you to our frontline heroes. Some of the country’s most iconic brands, David Jones, Myer, Costco, JB Hi-Fi, The Good Guys, Red Rooster, Best&Less and more are

Read More »