November numbers provide nascent preview for Christmas

Media Release

Friday 11 January 2019: The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said the November trade figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reflect a sluggish preview for the Christmas trading period, with 2.76% total growth year-on-year.

Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director of the ARA, said while these figures are slightly less than the ARA and Roy Morgan predicted, the ARA are still optimistic that the retail sector will reach the estimated $51 billion pre-Christmas sales figure, which should provide some relief to retailers as they welcome the new year.

“Our combined research with Roy Morgan forecasted a 2.9% increase in pre-Christmas sales, as we projected shoppers to spend $51 billion from retail stores across the country from November 9 to December 26, 2018,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“According to the November figures released today by the ABS, the Apparel and Footwear category recognised substantial growth with an impressive 5.87% year-on-year lift, with consumers purchasing outfits for upcoming festivities and the warmer summer months ahead.”

Department stores also posted a welcome 1.63% year-on-year growth, while the Other retailing/online category was saw a weaker-than-anticipated at 4.68% year-on-year.

“Sales events in the month of November certainly contributed to a steady lead-in to the festive season, particularly for department stores and online retailing,” Mr Zimmerman said.

The overall Food category exhibited a conservative 1.25% year-on-year growth, while Supermarkets remained strong with 4.50% year-on-year growth, and specialised food saw a 3.84% increase.

“As expected, the Specialised Food and Supermarket categories received a slight increase, with many shoppers across the nation preparing their tables for Christmas Day,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“However, some of this increase must be attributed to a reduction in supply of fresh produce due to weather events, especially the ongoing drought, which has driven prices of fruits, vegetables and meat upwards.”

Across the country, Australian Capital Territory (5.52%), Victoria (4.58%), Queensland (3.67%) and Tasmania (3.01%) showed the strongest year-on-year growth. Meanwhile, New South Wales (1.92%), South Australia (0.93%) and Western Australia (0.30%) remained stable, with the Northern Territory (-1.76%) receiving a negative result in November.

“Although Victoria has led the charge in sales across the country for most of 2018, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), surpassed the nation in November with a stellar 5.52% year-on-year growth,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Western Australia (WA) has noted an impressive three consecutive months of year-on-year growth, and we are seeing some cautious, yet promising signs of a rebound after experiencing a sluggish two years of retail trade.”

Mr Zimmerman said although today’s figures profess a muted lead-in to Christmas, the ARA are confident that the industry will show its stripes when the December trade figures are released in February.

“Based on what we have seen and heard from retailers and our members, we believe the overall Christmas trade will indicate secure growth, with many large retailers noticing growth in-store,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“The ARA will continue to partner with Roy Morgan to deliver the only professionally researched industry Christmas predictions in Australia, and we believe the figures released today represent an accurate preview of sales in the lead-up to the festive season.”

Monthly Retail Growth (October 2018 – November 2018 seasonally adjusted) 

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (1.52%), Household goods retailing (1.24%), Food retailing (0.23%), Department stores (0.43%) Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (-0.08%) and Other retailing (-0.11%),

Australian Capital Territory (1.63%), New South Wales (0.76%), Victoria (0.63%), Western Australia (0.56%), Queensland (0.43%), South Australia (-0.02%),Tasmania (-0.24%) and Northern Territory (-0.92%).

Total sales (0.42%).

Year-on-Year Retail Growth (November 2017 – November 2018 seasonally adjusted)

Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (5.87%), Food retailing (4.05%), Other retailing (2.71%), Department stores (1.63%), Cafés, restaurants and takeaway food services (1.25%) and Household goods retailing (0.11%).

Australian Capital Territory (5.52%), Victoria (4.58%), Queensland (3.67%), Tasmania (3.01%), New South Wales (1.92%), South Australia (0.93%), Western Australia (0.30%) and Northern Territory (-1.76%).

Total sales (2.76%). 


For interview opportunities with Russell Zimmerman ARA Executive Director call the ARA Media team 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 $310 billion sector, which employs more than 1.2 million people. As Australia’s leading retail peak body industry, 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 7,500 independent and national retail members throughout Australia. For more information, visit or call 1300 368 041.

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