Retail and wholesale trade


Economic contribution | Contribution to employment |  Retail trade | Wholesale trade | Explanatory notes

Economic contribution

In 2016-17, the retail and wholesale trade industry contributed $1.3 billion in real terms to the Northern Territory’s (NT’s) economy. As a percentage share of gross state product (GSP), the industry contributed 4.8% in 2016-17, only slightly below the 10‑year average of 5.0%.

Retail and wholesale trade expenditure in the NT has grown by an average of 5.3% per annum in the 10 years to 2016-17. In the past four years growth has moderated below the 10‑year average, but still increasing by 3.8% in 2013-14, 3.4% in 2014-15, 1.0% in 2015-16 and 2.1% in 2016-17 (Chart 1). Despite the modest growth, the retail and wholesale industry has recorded 16 years of consecutive growth in the NT.

Contribution to employment

While the retail and wholesale trade industry contributes just under 5.0% of total NT GSP, it was one of the Territory’s largest industry employers with 14,070 people employed in the industry in 2016-17, representing a 10.2% share of total employment, slightly below the 10-year average of 10.8%. This reflects the dominance of the government and community services industry, mining and construction industries and the relatively small size of the NT’s wholesale trade sector (Chart 2).

Across the larger jurisdictions, the retail and wholesale trade industry share of GSP and employment is broadly consistent with the share of GDP, with GSP averaging 8.7% across Australia and the share of employment averaging 14.3% over the past 10 years.

Nationally, retail and wholesale trade, as a share of employment, has been trending down since 2012‑13 with a share of 13.3% in 2016-17, below the 10‑year average of 14.3%.

In 2017-18, the retail and wholesale trade sector share of total employment in the NT dropped slightly to 9.8%, below the 10-year average of 10.8%. Nationally, the share of employment remained at 13.3%, again below the 10-year average of 14.1%.

The main contributor to this share is the retail industry, which consisted of 11 238 employed persons in 2017-18, and accounted for 8.2% of total employment.

Retail trade

For the latest available data and analysis about the NT’s retail market, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Retail trade economic brief.

In 2017-18, retail turnover in the NT increased by 0.8% to $3.1 billion, remaining well below the 10‑year average growth rate of 2.1% (real terms). Nationally, retail turnover increased by 2.6% to $313 billion in the year (Chart 3).

In 2017-18, growth in retail trade was the result of increased spending on:

In contrast, spending in other retailing (which includes a combination of department stores unrelated to other categories) declined in the year (down 1.4%), contributing 16.6% to total retail turnover. Spending also declined on cafes, restaurants and takeaway (down 1.3%), a 14.9% contribution to total retail turnover (Chart 4).

Table 1 compares the changes in the NT’s retail spending in 2017-18, and the average annual change by sector over the past decade.

In the September quarter 2018, retail turnover increased by 3.9% to $830 million, and was 0.1% higher compared to the September quarter 2017 (at $3.1 million). The main categories contributing to the year’s increase were household goods, and clothing, footwear and personal apparel. Spending on cafes, restaurants and takeaway was unchanged, while spending on food, and other retailing detracted from total retail turnover in the year to September 2018.

Wholesale trade

Wholesale trade is a smaller component of NT GSP and a much smaller share of employment relative to retail trade. Wholesale trade is the sale of new or used goods to businesses and institutional users, but excludes government users. Activity in the NT’s wholesale trade industry is mainly in industrial storage and equipment, transport and food wholesaling. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) does not publish disaggregated data on wholesale trade by jurisdiction.

Wholesale trade in the NT continues to contribute a smaller proportion (41.7% in 2016‑17) to the retail and wholesale trade industry than nationally (46.8%). Wholesale trade increased by 3.0% to $550 million in 2016‑17 compared to a decline of 0.7% in 2015-16. This modest increase was still well below the 10‑year historical average growth rate of 9.7% (Chart 5). Despite the relatively small size of the wholesale trade industry, it has more than doubled over the past 10 years likely due to the effect of major projects in the NT. Nationally, the value of wholesale trade increased by 6.2% in 2016-17, above the 10‑year historical average growth of 2.9%.

Explanatory notes

The analysis on the components of retail activity is based on ABS data on retail trade, which is measured on a different basis to the GSP data. For the latest available data and analysis about the NT’s retail market, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s Retail trade economic brief. This quarterly release is based on chain volume or inflation adjusted estimates and differs from the monthly statistics which are based on current prices.

There is no corresponding economic brief for wholesale trade industry and the ABS does not publish disaggregated data on wholesale trade by jurisdiction.

The ABS provides useful information and sources about the retail industries. The publication presents an estimate value of retail trade turnover for Australian businesses classified by industry, state and territory.