Australia Retail Feb Sales: 0.5% MoM (expected 0.4%)

Retail Sales for February arrived +0.5% MoM vs the expected 0.4% and prior -0.3% and a fall of 0.6% in December 2019. However, there was a muted reaction in the data:

The following industries rose in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020:

  • Food retailing (0.8%), Department stores (3.1%), Household goods retailing (0.7%), Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (0.2%), and Other retailing (0.2%).
  • Clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-2.9%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020.

The following states and territories rose in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020:

  • Queensland (0.8%), Victoria (0.5%), Western Australia (1.2%), South Australia (0.4%), and the Australian Capital Territory (1.1%). Tasmania (0.0%) and New South Wales (0.0%) were relatively unchanged. The Northern Territory (-0.7%) fell in seasonally adjusted terms in February 2020.

Impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) in February

The Australian Bureau of Statistics explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) commenced daily situation reports of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on 21 January 2020 and identified it as an international health emergency on 30 January. From 1 February, the Australian Government placed travel restrictions on those travelling to Australia from mainland China."

COVID-19 did not impact data collection activities for the February 2020 reference month. Individual retail businesses reported a range of impacts attributed to COVID-19:

  • Select businesses, especially in the Supermarket and grocery stores and Pharmaceutical, cosmetic and toiletry goods retailing subgroups, saw an increase in turnover related to the virus. As part of the ABS commitment to understand the economic impact of COVID-19, the ABS has used scanner data to conduct analysis on Supermarket and grocery store spending by Australian households. The analysis shows that retail turnover for discretionary and non-discretionary grocery spending increased by 6.1% and 9.4% respectively in February 2020 compared to February 2019. Further information is included in the Analysis by Industry section.
  • Some businesses, especially those reliant on tourism, reported adverse impacts to turnover.
  • Other businesses saw little impact in February from COVID-19 but expect significant impacts in the March reference month, as restrictions on trading were increased.


The Retail Sales released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics is a survey of goods sold by retailers is based on a sampling of retail stores of different types and sizes and it''s considered as an indicator of the pace of the Australian economy. It shows the performance of the retail sector over the short and mid-term. Positive economic growth anticipates bullish trends for the AUD, while a low reading is seen as negative or bearish.

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