The Largest Australian Retailers

Overhead view of an Australian mall
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Even though it is at the bottom of the continental population list, Australia ranks high on the list of the world’s largest retailers. Australian retailers do not have prominence on other continents, but within its own borders, retailing is the second-largest employer, behind only health care and social assistance.

Each year a Global Powers of Retailing report compiled by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu ranks retail companies of all types in all countries according to total revenue. For at least a decade, that list has included Australian retail companies with annual revenue large enough to be ranked among the largest retail companies in the world.

What follows are the largest retail companies with headquarters in Australia, which are also among the largest retail chains in the world. These are drawn from the 2019 Global Powers of Retailing report, which reflects revenues generated in FY 2017. Compare the 2019 rankings with those from 2010 to see how each of the largest Australian retail companies has improved over the past decade.

Largest Retail Companies in Australia

Wesfarmers Limited—Supermarket
2019 global ranking: 21 (2010 global ranking: 28)
FY2017 retail revenue: $48.7 billion

Woolworths Limited—Supermarket
2019 global ranking: 22 (2010 global ranking: 26)
FY2017 retail revenue: $42.9 billion

JB Hi-Fi Limited—Electronics Specialty
2019 global ranking: 181 (2010 global ranking: unlisted)
FY2017 retail revenue: $5.3 billion

Grocery and Supermarket Retailing in Australia

There's a reason why the two largest retailers in Australia are grocery retailing companies. As a whole, the food, beverage, and grocery industry accounts for more than a third of Australia's manufacturing sector. Grocery store and supermarket revenue was $135 billion in 2018, representing a 13.7% growth since 2014. Woolworths had a 38% share of this market.

Australian Retail Industry and Retail Economy Statistics

The retail industry is a large and significant part of the Australian economy. Consider these most recent statistics from the Australian retail industry, which reveal the importance of Australian retailing, by the numbers:

  • $24 million—Average monthly retail sales (2018)
  • 2.9%—Growth in Australian retail sales from November 2018 to November 2019
  • 5.7%—Average year-over-year increase in total Australian retail industry revenue between 1983 and 2019
  • 1.3 million - Total number of retail industry jobs (2018)
  • 10.4%—Percentage of all employed Australians working in the retail industry

Global Retailers in Australia

Foreign retail companies are also strongly represented in Australia, with retailing companies such as Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, Apple, Zara, Fossil, and Costco capitalizing on the rising sales potential. In fact, according to Australia Post's 2019 E-Commerce Industry Report, 40% of Australian online shoppers' most recent purchases were from China.

Australia’s GDP has shown steady growth in recent years, thanks in part to the relatively large contribution of the retail sector. Through an increase in entrepreneurship and franchising, retail has become a driving force with a vital role in the Australian economy.

Online Retailing in Australia

The Australian retail industry growth has been fueled by the rise of the shopping mall, private equity investors, big-box retailers, vertical brand integration, and internet shopping.

Online retailing in Australia is a challenge due to its isolated geography and the transportation challenges associated with the procurement of merchandise not produced within its borders. Despite that, internet retailing is growing in Australia and in 2018 it is estimated that that internet retail sales in Australia totaled $27.5 billion, which represents a 20% increase from 2017.

According to Power Retail, these were the top online retailers in Australia for 2019, by category:

  • No. 1 online retailer: Woolworths
  • Top eBay seller: The Good Guys
  • Top customer rating: JB Hi-Fi
  • Top social retailer: Showpo
  • Top Click Frenzy seller: My Deal
  • Top online-only retailer: ASOS
  • Top small-medium retailer: Naked Wines
  • Speed demon: Hard to Find 
  • Hot innovator: Catch
  • Site user Experience: Cotton On
  • Fast movers: Pet Circle
  • Top e-commerce group: Catch Group
  • Top email marketing: Adore Beauty
  • Top native app: Catch
  • Ones to watch: Ikea
  • Top mobile experience: Catch
  • Top marketing initiative: Showpo
  • Punching above their weight: Flora & Fauna
  • Top cross-border: Chemist Warehouse

Article Sources

  1. Parliament of Australia. "Employment by Industry Statistics: a Quick Guide." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  2. Deloitte. "Global Powers of Retailing 2019." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  3. USDA. "Australia Retail Foods: Retail Food Sector Report 2019." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  4. Trading Economics. "Australia Retail Sales YoY." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  5. Parliament of Australia. "Employment by Industry Statistics: A Quick Guide." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  6. Australian Bureau of Statistics. "8155.0 - Australian Industry, 2017-18." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  7. Australia Post. "Inside Australian Online Shopping." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  8. World Bank. "GDP Growth (Annual %)." Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.

  9. Power Retail. "All Star Bash 2019–Top Online Retailers Revealed!" Accessed Jan. 29, 2020.