Media Release Trade figures UPDATE

The Executive Director of the Australian Retailers’ Association (ARA), Russell Zimmerman, said March trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed strong year-on-year growth of 3.51%, with Queensland (5.30%) and Victoria (4.73%) posting healthy year-on-year improvements.

“Today’s retail trade figures, although softer than we anticipated, revealed reasonably solid results for March,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The Clothing, footwear and personal accessories category recorded standout 5.88% year-on-year growth in March, with footwear, in particular, recording a 6.43% year-on-year increase.

“Clothing and footwear retailers have continued to experience rising growth since the beginning of the year, and with colder months ahead we can only expect these figures will increase,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (4.77%) and food retailing (4.46%) both experienced spikes in sales during March, with supermarket retailers recording 5.40% year-on-year growth.

“Although consumer confidence has dampened over the last few months, the staggering rise in retail spend across cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services and food retailing, shows that Australians are starting to spend on discretionary items again and treating themselves to small luxuries,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“It is also pleasing to see that, despite recent droughts and floods occurring across various parts of the country, supermarkets have managed to bounce back, recording considerable year-on-year growth,” Mr Zimmerman said.

Across the country, Australian Capital Territory Queensland (5.30%), Victoria (4.73%), Australian Capital Territory (3.71%),Tasmania (3.67%), New South Wales (2.70%), South Australia (1.87%),Western Australia (1.14%) recorded substantial growth, while the Northern Territory (-1.30%) recorded negative growth in March.

“Queensland, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory have once again experienced strong year-on-year growth for March, while Tasmania and New South Wales also continue to show impressive growth year-on-year,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Although these figures are pleasing, the persistent decline in retail spending across the Northern Territory over the last seven months is still a serious concern and we hope to see it turn around soon.”

In comments relating to the imminent federal election, Mr Zimmerman said that it was to be hoped that whatever the outcome, the resulting government would be able to govern effectively without interference and frustration from minor party crossbench Senators.

“We are happy to work with whatever government is elected, but our overwhelming preference is for whomever that is to be able to just get on with it without constantly being frustrated in the Senate, which has put a handbrake on the process of government for many years now,” Mr Zimmerman concluded.

Monthly Retail Growth (February 2019 – March 2019 seasonally adjusted) 

Department stores (1.56%), Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.49%),Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (0.50%), Food retailing (0.41%), Household goods retailing (0.26%) and Other retailing (-0.59%).

Australian Capital Territory (1.69%), Queensland (1.45%),Northern Territory (1.42%),New South Wales (0.83%), Victoria (0.82%), South Australia (0.78%), Western Australia (-0.07%) and Tasmania (-0.95%).

Total sales (0.37%).

Year-on-Year Retail Growth (March 2018 – March 2019 seasonally adjusted)

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (5.88%),Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (4.77%), Food retailing (4.46%), Other retailing (3.50%), Household goods retailing (0.57%) and Department stores (-0.42%).

Queensland (5.30%), Victoria (4.73%), Australian Capital Territory (3.71%),Tasmania (3.67%), New South Wales (2.70%), South Australia (1.87%),Western Australia (1.14%), and Northern Territory (-1.30%).

Total sales (3.51%). 

ENDS…for interview opportunities with ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman, or for more information, please call Zoe Thompson on 0439 612 556 or email

About the Australian Retailers Association: Founded in 1903, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is Australia’s largest retail association, representing the country’s $320 billion-dollar sector, which employs more than 1.3 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak industry body, the ARA is a strong pro-active advocate for Australian retail and works to ensure retail success by informing, protecting, advocating, educating and saving money for its 7,800 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

7 May 2019

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