Retail trade figures for March released on 3 May have underlined the need for urgent cost of living relief for households in next week’s Federal Budget, the National Retail Association has said.

NRA CEO Greg Griffith said under normal circumstances retailers would welcome growth in turnover of 0.4 per cent in March and 5.4 per cent for the year, seasonally adjusted.

However, as the Australian Bureau of Statistics points out, the positive figures were largely driven by high food inflation, which is also being passed on to cafes and restaurants, while consumers were pulling back their discretionary spending.

“With inflation running at seven per cent, annual growth of 5.4 per cent means retailers are actually going backwards, particularly when you take into account increasing rent, wages and input costs.

“There’s no doubt the cost of living continues to hurt Australian households and retail businesses, and that’s why we’re looking for a strong response in next week’s Federal Budget,” Mr Griffith said.

“The Treasurer and the Albanese Government are making all the right noises, and today’s figures demonstrate without doubt the need for urgent financial relief.”

Mr Griffith said the rising cost of food, including supply and logistics, was beginning to have a chronic impact in remote communities, leading to food insecurity for many Australians.

“Increasing costs of food in rural, remote, and regional Australia significantly impacts the access to food in these communities.

“Geographical location and supply and demand issues are now resulting in unavailability of food in some areas.

“In a prosperous nation such as Australia, families should be able to afford their basic food needs, so we look forward to a strong response from the Government next week.”

The National Retail Association is the voice of modern retail, representing more than 60,000 stores across Australia. It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast-food sectors for close to 100 years.

For more information, please contact the NRA media unit at or 1800 RETAIL (738 245).