Business types in this industry 

The retail and wholesale trade industry includes businesses who sell in shops, online and by commission.  

Retail businesses purchase and on-sell goods to the general public, including:

  • electrical, electronic and whitegoods
  • floor coverings, furniture and housewares
  • food and grocery
  • fuel
  • hardware, building and garden supplies
  • motor vehicles, trailers, parts and accessories
  • clothing and footwear
  • personal accessories
  • pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
  • recreational goods
  • textiles
  • books, magazines, papers and office supplies.

Wholesale trade businesses purchase goods from suppliers, and then on-sell them to other businesses such as retailers. 

Industry statistics

Industry research is an important part of planning for your business, it may help you identify:

  • economic and industry trends
  • establish or improve your business
  • help you keep pace with your industry.

See statistics for the retail and wholesale trade industry on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) website.

The Australian Taxation Office provides industry benchmarks to help you compare your business's performance against similar businesses in your industry. Read about the benchmarks for retail trade.

Check out the profiles for retail trade and wholesale trade industry, on the Labour Market Insights website. This will give you an idea of what's happening in the Australian job market.

Licences and permits

There are a range of licences, permits and approvals that you may need to consider, for the retail and wholesale trade services industry, including for: 

  • erecting/displaying signage
  • playing video/sound recordings
  • preparing and/or selling food
  • selling and distributing alcohol
  • selling tobacco products
  • disposal of waste
  • importing goods
  • zoning permits and noise restrictions
  • restricted trading days and hours
  • handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances.

Industrial chemicals

If you import industrial chemicals, you must register your business with the Australian Industrial Chemicals Introduction Scheme (AICIS). You will need to pay a registration fee.

Items that could contain industrial chemicals include:

  • soap
  • cosmetics
  • paint
  • glue
  • printing ink
  • cleaning products.

Find the licences and permits you need for your business

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) to find information on the licences you may need.

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Retail and wholesale trade businesses have specific goods and services tax (GST) measures. It’s important that you know your GST obligations and to make sure you register with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure you can claim your GST credits.

If you import goods, read about GST and imported goods on the ATO website. Also see information about duty fees on the Australian Border Force website.  


While retailers and wholesalers do not generally rely heavily on the environment, they can still have a significant impact. The main environmental issues that businesses in the retail and wholesale trade industry should understand include:

  • state based plastic bag ban
  • waste management and reduction
  • environmental labelling for electrical products
  • recycling
  • reporting
  • sustainability.

Controlling your energy use is one way you can improve environmental and business sustainability.  

The Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water has tips for reducing your energy costs in their retail industry sector guide


Alongside compulsory insurances, the retail and wholesale trade industry has specific insurances. These insurances include:

  • public liability insurance
  • product liability insurance
  • equipment and machinery
  • property and buildings
  • vehicles
  • business interruption.

Find support

If you need advice or support, consider getting help from your industry association, a business adviser, accountant or legal professional.

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