Restaurant sales on the up again, food retail remains strong

Posted by James Ferre on 3rd March 2009

The latest ABS data has indicated that restaurants, cafés and take-away outlets have begun to regain some of the customers they may have lost last year, while food retail continues to record robust results.

The seasonally adjusted estimate of retail trade surprisingly increased by 0.2% in January 2009, following increases of 3.8% in December and 0.4% in November 2008.

In original terms, Australian turnover decreased by 23.0% in January 2009 compared with December 2008 as sales declined in the month after Christmas. Chains and other large retailers (which are completely enumerated) decreased by 24.6%, while the estimate for ‘smaller’ retailers decreased by 19.8%.

Australian turnover increased by 6.3% in January 2009 compared with January 2008, however. Chains and other large retailers increased by 10.5%, while the estimate for ‘smaller’ retailers decreased by 0.6%.

In seasonally adjusted terms, food retailing (+1.5%) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (+2.3%) posted the strongest results in January. The data represents a major turnaround for cafés, restaurants and take-away outlets as declines, in seasonally adjusted terms, were commonplace last year. Based on research into consumer behaviour and the performance of a number of fast-food chains, it is likely that the fortunes of take-away food outlets were a key to the positive result.