Business turnover for the retail trade industry fell by 3.3% in December, according to figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

This was followed by a 3.1% fall in the wholesale trade industry. 

Overall, ABS head of business statistics Robert Ewing said eight of the 13 industries had falls in business turnover in December.

“The fall in Retail trade turnover can be attributed to consumers bringing forward spending into November, as reported in retail trade data released recently,” Ewing said.

“Lower turnover across multiple categories contributed to the 3.1% fall in the wholesale trade industry.”


Compared to December 2022, retail trade turnover lifted by 0.5%, well behind the largest annual rises recorded in construction (up 13.9%), other services (6.9%) and accommodation and food services (6.1%).

Annually, the largest falls were in mining (down 6.6%) and electricity, gas, water and waste services (down 3.6%).

The apparent slowdown in business turnover, particularly for retail, comes as household spending lifted by just 2.3% compared to a year ago in December.

Ewing said this was the smallest growth in household spending since February 2021.

“Through-the-year growth in household spending eased across eight of the nine spending categories in December, as households continued to face cost-of-living pressures,” Ewing said.

“Discretionary spending was 0.6% lower than the same time last year, with less spending on goods for recreation and culture and on furnishings and household equipment contributing to the fall.”


Compared to the same time last year, household spending rose in all states and territories. 

Western Australia and the Northern Territory had the largest rises in spending (both up 4.5%), followed by South Australia (up 2.8%).

Most states and territories recorded lower spending growth rates than in November. South Australia had the largest fall in growth, dropping from 5.4% in November to 2.8% in December.

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