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January, 2024

ABS: Black Friday sales impact sees Australian retail turnover drops 2.7% in December

Australian retail turnover fell by 2.7% in December 2023, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), a consequence of consumers bringing forward their dollars to spend in the increasingly popular Black Friday sales in November.

The results follows a revised rise of 1.6% in November 2023 and a fall of 0.2% in October 2023. The ABS noted revisions to seasonally adjusted data were larger than usual this month, reflecting improvements in the data as the evolving seasonal pattern becomes clearer.

“The large fall in retail turnover in December was caused by a fall in discretionary spending. Consumers brought forward some of their usual December spending to November to take advantage of Black Friday sales,” said ABS head of retail statistics, Ben Dorber. He added that this shift in spending from December to November was also a sign of the impact of cost-of-living pressures.

Retail turnover rose 0.1% in trend terms, indicating underlying retail spending remains subdued.

“While there was a large seasonally adjusted fall in December, retail turnover rose 0.1 per cent in trend terms. This shows that underlying retail spending remains subdued when we look through the volatile movements over recent months in the lead up to Christmas,” Dorber explained.

The largest fall was seen in household goods retailing (-8.5%), followed by department stores (-8.1%), clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing (-5.7%), and other retailing (-1.1%). Food-related industries saw a fall in turnover in cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (-1.1%), while food retailing (0.1%) was the only industry to rise.

“Retailers told us that trading conditions were slow in early December following the success of Black Friday before picking up again in the lead up to Christmas and Boxing Day sales where discounting activity returned,” Dorber said.