Shoppers have returned in January. Photo – Canva.
  • Australia retail trade saw 10.7% annual growth in seasonally-adjusted figures
  • After a 4.1% fall in December, January saw a 0.6% rise
  • Retail rebounded in all states and territories except Queensland

Preliminary survey estimates for Australian retail trade showed a 10.7% growth in seasonally-adjusted figures for the year to January 2021.

Having been sluggish throughout most of 2019 (average growth around 2%, year on year), things took on a hectic pace once the pandemic hit in March 2020.

Panic-buying saw retail during the year to March grow 10%, then collapse -9.2% once lockdown was in full force in April. From there, things improved to bounce around the 5% to 12% range before settling on a growth trajectory that revealed the latest double-digit figures.

Chart: Total retail turnover, seasonally adjusted, percentage change

Retail Figures Australia Jan 2021
Source: ABS


After a 4.1% fall in December a few months ago, January saw a 0.6% rise. Retail rebounded in all states and territories except Queensland, which saw some COVID-19 restrictions.

“There continues to be variations in retail sales between states and territories, as COVID-19 restrictions are tightened or eased in different parts of the country,” said Director of Quarterly Economy Wide Surveys Ben James.

“All states and territories rose in January, except Queensland (-1.5%), where a three day lockdown impacted trade. NSW (+1.0%) led the rises, as restrictions that began in December were eased during January.”

Queensland retail is expected to rebound in February, as restrictions have eased. After mini lockdowns in both Perth and Victoria, there could be disruptions to the retail figures there.

January retail results are based on surveys. Once all the data is in, they could be revised in mid-March.

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