Retail Insights Report

Australian Retail Insights For 2023

How will retailers respond to our 

new permanent state of disruption?

“People are more values-driven when it comes to their shopping and resonate more strongly with brands that reflect social issues that are important to them”

In 2022, a year of significant challenge, the industry defied expectations to record 16 consecutive months of year-on-year sales growth. Today, retailers are staring down a period of uncertainty as cost-of-living pressures begin to deter discretionary purchases. 

As we navigate this challenging period, what are the top issues on the minds of our retail leaders? What is driving the retail customer in 2022? And what lessons can we take from the pandemic experience to fortify ahead of this economic slowdown?   

The Australian Retailers Association’s 2023 Retail Insights Report serves as a central point of information around our retail performance and outlook. It features insightful conversations with Australia’s leading retail researchers and analysts. We examine the powerful shift that’s occurred in the way people live, work and purchase the goods and services they need, along with a look at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for retail in the midst of economic headwinds.  

As it stands, retail’s recovery from the pandemic has been nuanced. Pleasingly, CBD retailers who were hardest hit are saying weekends are back to pre-pandemic levels and some weekdays are slowly recovering – predominantly suffering from the segue to working from home. 

Industries such as hairdressing and beauty therapy continue to be hamstrung by a crippling shortage of talent – with labour shortages yet to recover. This year will again be particularly challenging for small business – with cashflow pressures and threatening the survival and performance of many.  

Close to half of Australia’s small business operators (49%) admit cash flow management is the most stressful aspect of running their business, according to findings from American Express’ Working Capital research.

The challenge for retailers will be maintaining a healthy profit margin amid the increasing cost of doing business. And as you will see in this year’s Retail Insights Report, there are emerging trends that are crucial to continued success.  

While we must learn from the past and take stock of current challenges, we must also pay attention to the future direction of our sector globally and as it is driven by consumer trends. The pandemic has highlighted just how crucial it is for retailers to embrace sustainability and purpose. 


This digital dashboard brings together the key metrics from our industry to provide a comprehensive overview of its performance.

During the last few years, consumers became more purposeful shoppers – driven by practicalities such as lockdowns, social distancing and the convenience of e-commerce. In 2023, this shift has strengthened in line with the growing forces of sustainability, economic uncertainty and improved tech tools.  

Consumers are shopping cautiously, thoughtfully, and repetitively  spending on items from companies that align with their values and beliefs.  We are moving from the disposable economy to the circular economy  where one sees value in the goods they are purchasing beyond their initial ownership  driven by a concern about waste and sending goods to landfill.   

Price, product assortment and convenience have historically been a focus for retailers when thinking about how to capture loyal, repeat customers.  

While that’s not changing, factors like personalisation, sustainability and ethics are increasingly influencing which retailers and brands consumers pick.  

People are becoming more values-driven when it comes to their shopping and resonate more strongly with the brands that reflect the social issues that are important to them. 

The Australian Retailers Association has built an expansive network of partners covering the areas of retail performance, payments, consumer trends, legal and superannuation – all of which have contributed to 2023’s Retail Insights Report. By sharing knowledge and insights we can ensure Australia’s retail sector is better informed to grow into the future.

Explore the Retail Insights Report 

The ARA Retail Insights Report is an annual research report which showcases best-of-breed research for the Australian retail sector and provides an overview of sector performance and outlook. This document is produced in partnership with our community of retail partners and experts.


Industry Performance

Access exclusive insights into expected retail sector performance in 2023



More consumers are shopping online than ever before. Beyond the numbers, consumer behaviour is also changing


Retail Reputation

Companies must continue to focus on a combination of capability and character


Consumer Trends

Click here for an overview of the top consumer trends in 2023


Retail as a Career

In this section, we explore retail as a career and strategies for encouraging workers into our sector


Small Business

Cash flow challenges have impacted small retailers in 2022, and more challenges are expected in 2023



Click here to access the latest insights into marketing investment and how retailers can get the best ROI this year


Global Trends

Two clear themes emerged from the recent NRF Big Show to provide future direction for retailers – ‘high tech, high touch’.



This digital dashboard brings together the key metrics from our industry to provide a comprehensive overview of its performance. Our goal is to enhance the use of data and help inform decision making for the retail sector. By incorporating the best available research, we aim to support the growth and stability of the industry.

Expert contributors