Index Predicts Modest Retail Sales Growth in Q1 2018

AFGC CHEP Retail Index: A lead indicator of Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade data, based on transactional data from CHEP pallet movements.


31 JANUARY 2018 – Figures published in the latest edition of the quarterly AFGC CHEP Retail Index, which uses transactional data from CHEP pallet movements to provide a lead indicator of Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade data, have signaled modest retail sales growth in Q1 2018.

Despite improving business confidence, an early-2018 moderation in pallet movements suggests that retailers expect a modest trading environment over the initial months of 2018. According to the Index, retail sales did show some strength in late 2017, but not enough to offset the soft growth in average retail spending over the rest of the year. Online retail continued to grow its share of the overall retail market during 2017.

Looking forward, the economic environment is supportive of potential improvement in retail sales growth in 2018 when improved business confidence, investment and labor market outcomes flow through to consumer spending.

Index: Key figures

– 3.5% year-on-year retail turnover growth to the month of December 2017, softening to 2.4% year-on-year for the month of February.
– On a quarterly basis, 2.4% year-on-year growth to the December quarter trending to 2.6% year on-year for the March 2018 quarter.

Providing commentary on the Index, David Rumbens, a partner at Deloitte Access Economics, noted: “Shaky retail sales growth during most of 2017 reflected fragile consumer confidence, continuing underemployment and a lack of wage growth. However, the improvement in retail sales growth towards the end of the year was some reward for retailers linked to the stunning rate of jobs growth which has also been seen through 2017.”

Australian Food and Grocery Council Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Tanya Barden, said: “After a tough trading year, the boost in late 2017 trade and continued improvements in the economy are good signs. While the AFGC CHEP index has not predicted an immediate uplift in spending in early 2018, we are hopeful of more sustained growth as 2018 progresses.”

President of CHEP Asia Pacific, Phillip Austin, said: “The scale of CHEP’s pallet pooling network provides us with significant insights into the Australian retail sector and the flexibility to quickly adapt to the needs of our customers and retailers if there is a sustainable lift in retail spending.”

The AFGC CHEP Retail Index is a collaborative project between the Australian Food and Grocery Council and CHEP Australia, with analysis and commentary by Deloitte. It is recognized as a reliable lead indicator of Australian Bureau of Statistics retail trade data. To access the January 2017 Index and previous editions of the Index, visit or CHEP Australia’s CHEPedia portal.